Everything that PD said in the research for the "Golden Passports"
Abuse warning, his former law firm, his son-in-law and the Saudi
The President of the Republic, Nikos, answered a number of questions concerning, among others, the Saudi businessman, whether his former law firm benefited from naturalization applications and whether companies related to him in the construction sector promoted naturalization of their clients through other law firms. Anastasiadis, who testified before the Investigative Committee on Tuesday, regarding the exceptional naturalization of foreign investors and businessmen.
During his deposition, the President of the Republic began with the reading of a detailed text, on the course of the economy from 2013 when he took over the presidency of the Republic until today, while he referred in detail to the differences that took place from time to time in the Cyprus Investment Program.
As noted, the return of the Cyprus Investment Program (KEP) to the economy was € 9,7 billion in the form of investments, of which approximately € 6,4 billion concerned the construction sector.
He also added that between 2016 and 2019, investments led to the creation of three thousand jobs in the construction sector, not counting jobs in other sectors.
Regarding the state of the economy, when he took office in 2013, President Anastasiadis said that "cash on March 1, 2013 amounted to only 235.6 million euros and was enough to cover government obligations not exceeding 30 days." to note that "direct liabilities amounted to 3.3 billion euros, in addition to the obligation to repay the government bond of Laiki Bank amounting to 1.88 billion euros."
He said that "the country, after 22 continuous downgrades by international rating agencies was out of international markets, the yields on the ten-year bond of the Republic of Cyprus were around 9%, while the issuance of 13-week government bonds had a yield of 5.3%", noting that "Unemployment had reached 16%, with rising trends."
At the same time, he said, "there was a significant increase in the risk of poverty or social exclusion, while, at the same time, social groceries operated throughout Cyprus to address the needs of vulnerable groups."
For the banking sector and especially for the two systemic banks, Laiki and Kyprou, he said that "they were maintained on the ventilator, with liquidity needs exceeding 15 billion euros, while non-performing loans in 2014 were 28.4 billion euros".
He also noted that "at that time, the economy was collapsing, we were facing the visible possibility of a delay in payments, the state was in a state of bankruptcy with the inability to repay any debt, citizens' incomes were shrinking, unemployment was on the rise, it needed support, which neither the state nor the wider economy could provide, while the social crisis was having a particularly serious impact on the lower economic strata and vulnerable groups. "
He then referred to the incentives introduced by the Council of Ministers to attract investors, something he said other countries had done. In addition, he referred in detail to all the decisions taken on the financial criteria of the Cyprus Investment Program and how the applicants could obtain a passport.
He added that in 2014 the criteria were strengthened and the payment of cash payments was prohibited, in order to combat money laundering, explaining that applicants were required to submit copies of their remittances.
"The aim was to ensure that both the incoming funds and the applicants are checked for any money laundering proceeds in accordance with the Law and the relevant instructions issued by the Central Bank of Cyprus, in accordance with the relevant instructions of the European Central Bank. Bank and the European Union. "Essentially, banks played an essential and key role in controlling the source of funds," he said.
Referring to the abolition of the provision that gave the applicant the right to naturalize if he had deposits of five million in banking institutions, he said that "this provision was deemed appropriate to be abolished, as, in addition to restoring deposit liquidity but also fiscal stability of the country, abuses were observed, since in many cases the deposits were returned to investors in the form of a loan ".
As the Council of Ministers added in 2018, it approved a series of important measures aimed at ensuring that the KEP is promoted by all those involved with professionalism, seriousness and quality service and that everyone should comply with the provisions of the KEP, within the financial objectives, thus protecting the interests of foreign investors and preserving the image of Cyprus as an investment destination.
The President warned the providers that there was abuse
Asked by Mr. Nikolatos if the KEP was abused, President Anastasiadis said that he noticed a reckless promotion at the airports or via the internet, which gave the impression that Cyprus was selling passports and that in most cases there was talk of a purchase. and not obtaining passports.
He noted that at airports, in addition to billboards, there were passport samples inviting guests to invest in obtaining a passport, noting that even in luggage trolleys there were advertisements that they could obtain a passport by investing.
He stated that he had warned the providers in meetings that there was abuse and that this behavior would lead to the abolition of the program.
He did not reveal names or companies
Invited by the members of the Commission to refer to specific cases, President Anastasiadis did not make any revelations, although as he said he knows "both names and companies, but also law firms".
However, after a question from Dimitra Kalogirou, he agreed to write the names and companies on a piece of paper and hand them over to the Commission.
Answering another question whether the control of the applications made by the Council of Ministers was satisfactory, Mr. Anastasiadis said that the Council of Ministers could not spend time in the examination of the applications, to add that this was done only in cases where there was a suggestion for derogation.
Asked if he was aware of any deviations, he referred to the case of the casino and a South African company, which he said had invested a large sum in buying a pharmaceutical company.
Regarding the rationale for including family members in naturalization applications, he said that this was done to encourage someone to invest in Cyprus and to be able to bring their family members.
No remarks from Parliament or a party on the KEP
Asked if he has received comments from either the Parliament or a party on the KEP, President Anastasiadis said that since 2013, different views may have been expressed, but no politician or party has called for the program to be abolished.
As for his former law firm, he noted that eight applications were approved before he took office and 57 after he took office.
He added that the percentage of applications approved by his law firm, after he took over, did not increase.
He added that the percentage of all approvals concerning his former office was 5,3% and then decreased to 1,8%.
In addition, he clarified that when he was elected President of the Republic, he alienated the shares of his office, to note that his daughters acquired 25% each, while the rest went to his partners.
His former law firm is under constant scrutiny
Mr. Anastasiadis also stated that because his daughters are considered politically exposed persons, his office is constantly audited by MOKAS, Moneyval, the Bar Association, VAT and once by the Auditor General.
He also mentioned in an interview with the Auditor General whether investors with naturalization applications were treated favorably and bought cars from a relative. "If I wanted to favor some applicants, I challenge anyone to say who I favored. "Favors are one of the many myths that have been heard," he said.
The reports of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not refer to providers or manufacturers for the knowledge of the President
Asked what position he took in the Council of Ministers in requests of his former law firm, Mr. Anastasiadis said that the President of the Republic, based on the Constitution, when he is in Cyprus, always chairs the Council in which he has no vote, noting that the requests do not mention builder or company that bought the property.
"The reports of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not mention providers or manufacturers for the knowledge of the President of the Republic or the Minister to request an exemption," he said.
Asked whether members of the Council of Ministers had asked to be excluded from any passport approval process due to a conflict of interest, he said that "this could not be done since the provider was not indicated in the application", to add that the same applies to the parliament.
In relation to him, he stated that the President of the Republic can not abstain from the work of the Council of Ministers, unless he is "clinically dead or has something to do with his health or is abroad."
Involvement of his close relatives in naturalization applications
To another question if there were companies of his close relatives who applied for naturalization, he answered in the negative.
In a clarifying question from Ms. Kalogirou if his relative and specifically his son-in-law was involved in applications, through his cooperation with another office, Mr. Anastasiadis stated that the construction company owned by a relative operated long before he acquired a relative. relationship with him.
Regarding an application for naturalization of shareholders or executives of a company, of which the groom is a member, he replied that he could not know all the activities of his groom.
He noted that the company has invested many millions of euros and the executives, who were given passports, met the criteria.
Of course I know Saudi
In addition, questions from members of the Commission of Inquiry focused on the case of the Saudi businessman.
Asked to mention his relationship with this businessman, the President clarified that he was not a lawyer of this businessman, that he knew him was related to him, while for his first trip to the Seychelles he said that it was done at his own expense in 2015 and not was done secretly.
"And of course I know him and of course I have a relationship with him. "But he did not benefit from the relationship of the President of the Republic," he said.
Asked to mention who benefited from this friendship, President Anastasiadis said that the Saudi businessman gave 966 thousand euros during his investment, to add that due to their relations he contributed another half a million.
He referred in detail to the amounts, while he submitted a list of the amounts that the specific entrepreneur has contributed.
"How much can anyone hear? "Everybody gets starters?" He asked.
The Saudi renounced his Cypriot citizenship
As he told the Commission, after the uproar that was created, the Saudi investor submitted an application to renounce Cypriot citizenship, due to the way Cyprus handles investors.
He even referred to the cases of Wargaming and the Casino, saying that "this is how we treat investors".
Moreover, as the President said, the documents of the Ministry of Finance show that instead of the minimum amount of 15 million euros, the Saudi family invested about 20 million euros.
He also referred to the investigation carried out by the Kalogirou Committee, with the following, stating: "We did indeed examine this. We also looked at the Auditor General's report, but looking at the criteria of that time, we had other findings, for example, three brothers had bought a house for 6 million euros, instead of getting one. We thought it was okay. "
The naturalization of Saudi Arabia took place without exception
In addition, Mr. Anastasiadis said that the naturalization of Saudi Arabia was done based on the criteria and without any exceptions.
"Did you imagine if the Saudi took the citizenship, not because he invested, but for the friendly actions towards the Cypriot state? Then I would be considered a bribe taker. "Fortunately, no exception was used and the criteria were met," he said.
Statements that undermine the operation of the Commission, says M. Nikolatos
Earlier, and before the deposition of the President of the Republic, the Chairman of the Research Committee, Myron Nikolatos, made a statement on behalf of the Committee, saying that "statements have been made and are being made, which undermine the operation of the Committee".
He assured that none of these actions would stand in the way of their work, and that the Commission would not be affected by these statements.