President Nicos Anastasiades

29 January 2021

President Nicos Anastasiades announced a string of measures to combat corruption following public protests against a now defunct citizenship-for-investment program. This program, started in 2007, provided Cypriot passports for individuals who invested 2.5 million euros ($3 million) into the country’s economy. It was particularly attractive to investors because a passport from European Union member, Cyprus would grant them free movement within the 27-member bloc. The program raised more than 8 billion euros ($9.7 billion) in investments before it was cancelled in November. There was a rumor that the lucrative program was created to benefit the law firm that carries the president’s name.

The government cancelled the program following an undercover news report that caught the parliamentary speaker and a long-serving lawmaker on video allegedly promising to help circumvent the rules for a fictitious Chinese investor with a supposed criminal conviction. The two legislators have since resigned.

The measures announced by the president include establishing an anti-corruption task force tasked with vetting government officials’ personal assets for potential conflicts of interest.

Justice Minister announced the creation of a committee charged with preventing political interference in government appointments, the provision of legal protections for whistleblowers and the formation of a lobbyists registry.

Additionally, penalties for corruption-related crimes will be beefed up. A new financial crimes investigations unit will be set up within the police force and the public will be granted online access to anti-corruption investigations for more transparency.

Numerous social media posts, vented anger against the president for allowing corruption to blossom during his eight years in office.

Yahoo News reported.