Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades pledged to revoke investors' passports that were 'mistakenly' given to them, including that of Malaysian fugitive Low Taek Jho
The president of the island republic admitted that mistakes were made in granting the country's passports to rich investors via the government-backed Cyprus Investment Plan (CIP), reported The Star.
Under the scheme, investors are able to 'purchase' themselves a citizenship by investing at least two million euros (RM9.24 million) in real estate or in a Cyprus-based business.
AP News reported that over 4,000 passports were issued to investors since the CIP was introduced following the 2013 financial crisis. Anastasiades said the move had saved his country from near bankruptcy.
Anastasiades' remedial measure came after a local daily reported that Jho Low's Cypriot citizenship was supported by the republic's chief bishop
Citing Cypriot daily Politis, Malaysiakini reported that Archbishop Chrysostomos II had helped to expedite Low's grant of Cyprus citizenship through a letter from the Christian Orthodox church in 2015.
Low, also known as Jho Low, is believed to be using the Cyprus passport to move across countries, reported New Straits Times.
He reportedly obtained the passport through well-known citizenship and passport broker Henley & Partners, which also helped him to get a passport from the Caribbean island-nation of Saint Kitts And Nevis.
In a statement to Malay Mail on Tuesday, Henley & Partners denied that they had received Low as a client.
"Contrary to what has been stated in multiple articles, Low has never been a client of Henley & Partners.
"Whilst he approached Henley & Partners in 2015, the firm declined to accept Low as a client," the firm said, adding that they follow stringent due diligence before passing a client over for the consideration of a sovereign state.
Cyprus is part of the European Union and its passport has a power rank of eight, a rank higher than Malaysia and 12 ranks higher than Saint Kitts And Nevis, according to Passport Index.
Former Cypriot Interior Minister Socrates Hasicos said Low had no criminal record when the passport was given to him.
Meanwhile, the authorities of the country Low is hiding in claimed that the business fugitive has undergone plastic surgery and now looks like a bear
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador said the country in question refused to cooperate with the police and have been giving "ridiculous excuses", reported New Straits Times.
"Among the excuses they gave include Jho Low apparently having changed his looks by undergoing facial surgery to look like a bear," said the IGP yesterday, 4 November.
"They say his face looks like a bear. I don't know, but apparently he has now changed his looks."
According to Malay Mail, a spokesman of Low had also taunted authorities by saying that Low was offered asylum "by a country that acts in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and European Convention on Human Rights".
Low is currently wanted by authorities in Malaysia, the US, and Singapore for his alleged crimes in the 1MDB scandal.