Ayia Napa Marina: The Auditor General intensifies the control for naturalizations

Odysseas Michailidis denounces "five illegally naturalized citizens of the Ayia Napa Marina, whose naturalization took place with excessive speed"

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An announcement was issued by the Audit Office regarding the decisions of the Council of Ministers taken after 18.8.2020, for the granting of Cypriot citizenship within the framework of the Cyprus Investment Program.

He notes, among other things, that the Auditor General has decided to extend the audit to the eight persons who were directors in the parent company of the management company of the Ayia Napa Marina, who received exceptional Cypriot citizenship.

This announcement:

Following the finding, during the legalized audit of the Ministry of Tourism, that between the years 2018 and 2020, eight persons who were directors in the parent company of the management company of the Ayia Napa Marina, received exceptional Cypriot citizenship by Decision of the Council of Ministers In violation of the applicable criteria, the Auditor General, exercising the power conferred on him by Article 116 of the Constitution to control public revenue, decided to extend the relevant control, especially in cases such as the five of the above eight, which were naturalized. following the introduction of the new legislative framework.

2. The following facts are recalled:

(a) Following a Draft Law of the Member of Parliament Mr. G. Perdikis, the Population Record (Amending) Law was passed on 15.2.2019, which included a specific transitional provision stipulating that this amending Law would enter into force on 31 January 2020 and that , the conditions under which the naturalization of foreign entrepreneurs and investors, as they had been determined under the provisions of paragraph (2) of article 111A of the basic law by the Council of Ministers before the date of entry into force of the amending Law, would continue to be valid until the adoption of the Regulations provided for in that Article.

(b) The relevant Regulations were submitted with a long delay by the Government, voted by the House of Representatives on 31.7.2020 and entered into force on 18.8.2020.

(c) Both the terms of the Council of Ministers that were valid until 18.8.2020, as well as the new Regulations dated. 18.8.2020, set as an explicit condition for naturalization, the possession of a residence permit in the Republic for a period of at least six months before naturalization. Usually the application for an immigration permit was submitted at the same time as the application for naturalization and was issued within a few weeks. Therefore, by definition, naturalization could not be done legally until about seven to eight months after the application was submitted, at the earliest.

(d) With the exception of cases of naturalization of persons associated with the casino, which were illegally naturalized and even expedited, many without even meeting the above criterion of holding a minimum residence permit for a period of six months, from Of the remaining 725 applications submitted and approved after May 2018, the average approval time was 327 days (with a minimum processing time of 215 days and a maximum of 716).

3. It is also known that:

(a) The activities of the administration are determined and limited by the applicable law.

(b) The general principles of administrative law do not prevail over any special legal provision that governs and regulates an issue.

(c) The general principles of administrative law stipulate that, when the administrative body is to issue an act, upon request, it will be based on the legal regime in force at the time of the adoption of the act, regardless of whether it was different at the time of the act. submission of the relevant application. Only when the administration, after a reasonable period of time, fails to proceed with the examination of the application, the status in force at the end of the expiry of the reasonable time shall be taken into account. We emphasize the word "omits" as it indicates that the activation of this provision presupposes some form of fault or negligence on the part of the administration, an issue that must be considered separately for each case. For example, the 5 illegally naturalized people of Ayia Napa Marina, applied in April and May 2019 but, at their own risk, filled in their application details in June 2020. Their naturalization took place without any delay, but rather with excessive speed, 2,5 months later, but ignoring the current legal framework resulting in the loss of a total amount of € 1m. from public funds.

4. On the basis of all the above data, the Audit Office will examine in order to reach safe conclusions regarding its findings:

    • Whether the Decisions of the Council of Ministers for the approval of the 221 naturalizations were justified in terms of the applicable legal status, as provided by the relevant legislation,
    • Whether there has been a delay in the examination of the 221 applications and, if so, whether this, on a case-by-case basis, can reasonably be attributed to some form of fault or negligence on the part of the administration,
    • In the cases, if any, that there has been a long delay that can reasonably be attributed to some form of fault or negligence on the part of the administration, whether this can justify ignorance of the new Regulations and implementation of the legal regime in force before 18.8.2020.

The above will be answered through the Special Report that will be issued when the relevant audit is completed, in accordance with the auditing standards.

5. The Audit Office, always within the framework of the Constitution and the relevant laws, continues its work unhindered and counters attacks that degrade the level of public speech and only show a lack of respect for the principles of accountability and control of those exercising public authority.