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9 Defendants in the First Cyprus Golden Passports Trial are Cleared of All Charges

The Larnaca Criminal Court reportedly cleared nine individuals in the first case involving the Cyprus Citizenship by Investment programme, popularly known as the Golden Passport program, of all charges.

Following allegations of involvement in the illegal awarding of Cypriot citizenship through the Golden Passport scam, five people and four legal organizations, including a well-known Larnaca attorney and his business partners, went on trial.

Nine defendants were allegedly accused of presenting fake documents to authorities in order to confer citizenship to an Iranian national who is wanted by Interpol as well as to his parents.

They were charged with 36 offenses, and the criminal court issued a 252-page, unanimous ruling.

"All charges shared the fact that the name T.N. was a false identity and the name M.E. was a real one, with the exception of charges 33 and 34, which dealt with a cover-up, and charges 36, which dealt with money laundering. However, the applicant for naturalization had a passport bearing the name T.N. from the Commonwealth of Dominica," the Court noted in this regard.

The Court emphasized in its ruling that the failure to provide sufficient evidence that the passport issued to T.N. by the Commonwealth of Dominica contained false information or was a counterfeit led to the failure to establish an essential aspect of the allegation, which led to the accused's acquittal.

According to the Court, one of the key requirements for a document to be considered a forgery for the purposes of the forgery offence is that it looks to be something unrelated to the person who created it, which was not the case in the instance of these nine suspects.

"It was never proven that the defendants or any of them knew T.N. was M.E./M.R. at the time they were charged with the offences."  The Court further observed that "in relation to count 25, which was a forgery of an official document, the Court dismissed the charge on the grounds that the application for naturalization was not one of the official documents."

Although the Golden Passport program made a considerable economic contribution to the nation, it was frequently condemned for allowing wealthy foreigners to illegally become citizens of this country.

Al Jazeera's investigative documentary on Cyprus' CIP program, which allowed foreigners to become citizens of this nation in exchange for making a certain financial commitment, revealed that criminals also benefited from the system.

The Cyprus Golden Passport program was abandoned in 2020 as a result of an investigative report by Al Jazeera titled The Cyprus Papers.



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