The hearings of the two former Ministers of Finance, Michalis Sarris and Charilaos Stavrakis, continue the hearings of the Research Committee for the Exceptional Naturalization of Foreign Investors and Entrepreneurs.
Mr. Sarris was the first to testify, when asked if the naturalization program was implemented correctly from 2013 onwards, he said that “In 2013 we had a serious financial problem, we took a risk to focus on the return to growth, we chose (as Cyprus) to focus entrepreneurs in construction, while we could focus on other areas, such as innovation, technology, as was the original purpose of the 2007 program. There were people who for various reasons wanted to hold a Cypriot passport, could one would think that one would need maximum attention to such an issue “.
Asked if the program was ultimately helpful for Cyprus, Mr. Sarris said that while in 2013 the economy was in a very difficult situation, with national income declining by 10% “we took a big risk to focus growth on one sector with a significant contribution to the crisis of 2008 “.
“As the years passed, the character of the program changed completely, it focused on supporting the construction sector and all these problems were created, which resulted in discrediting Cyprus abroad, discouraging genuine investors and having urban problems that we face. us “, he added.
Commissioner Pavlos Ioannou asked if there were explicitly defined regulations and legislation, the problems would be less, with Mr. Sarris answering that this is a hypothetical question as “there were many who could say something, the amounts were large , the decimals were big, and the program was on the verge of legality, there were issues and we should be more careful. “You can assume that these decisions were not made only by objective criteria, but no one can prove anything, but from the result we see that they may have closed their eyes where they should have been open.”
“You can make laws, the issue is how you apply them. To get € 2.5 million, they went through a bank clerk, they were approved by a manager, they went through the Police “, he said, adding that” the amounts were big, the tithes were big. “We had a result that was on the verge of legality, that is, they had issues where they lived and we had to be very careful.”
Asked by Commissioner Dimitra Kalogirou if the lack in various stages that brought us to this end of the program, Mr. Sarris said that “from the result we can not say that there was proper supervision. “There were many incentives for providers and others to make a profit, to circumvent the laws.”
Answering a question about the supervision of the program, Mr. Sarris, although he noted that he was not directly involved, some of the providers were more interested in promoting the applications.
“They had to ask some questions, but their interest was to promote the cases with financial gains they would have,” he said.
However, Mr. Sarris said that during his term of office, between August 2005 and March 2008, there was no approval of naturalizations by the Council of Ministers.
However, committee member Kyriakos Kyriakou reminded him that in 2007 there were five exceptional naturalization decisions, one of which concerned an athlete (in April 2007) and the other a Lebanese minor (in December 2007) and that in 2008 there were another eight naturalizations.
Last Tuesday (19/01/2020) the former Minister of Finance, Haris Georgiadis, testified before the Commission.
It is recalled that the work of the committee has started since November and before it the current Ministers Nikos Nouris and Konstantinos Petridis, the Auditor General Odysseas Michailidis, Christina Kaoulou, the former Minister Ch. , Neoklis Silikiotis, the Secretary of the Minister Theodosis Tsiolas, also the Secretary Georgios Georgiou and Andreas Moleskis, Former Secretary of the Council of Ministers.
The Chairman of the Committee is Myron Nikolatos, former President of the Supreme Court and the members are Dimitra Kalogirou, Chairman of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, Kyriakos Kyriakou, Assistant Auditor General and Pavlos Ioannou, Financial Commissioner.
Philenews / Insider