Uproar over Jho Low passport report: Cyprus plans to strip 26 of citizenships obtained under investment scheme

According to a report in the daily Politis, fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, more popularly known as Jho Low, got a passport issued by the island state back in 2015.
According to a report in the daily Politis, fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, more popularly known as Jho Low, got a passport issued by the island state back in 2015.PHOTO: POLITIS

ATHENS (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - Cyprus on Wednesday (Nov 6) said it had started a process to strip 26 individuals of citizenship they received under a secretive passports for investment scheme.

"Cabinet has decided to initiate a process to revoke Cypriot citizenship from 26 individuals," Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said.

"The Council of Ministers today affirmed the will of the government for strict adherence to the terms and conditions of the Cyprus investment programme," he added.

Mr Petrides did not disclose the nationalities or identities of the individuals concerned.

However, Bloomberg cited an unnamed senior government official as saying that the decision will cover nine Russians, eight Cambodians, five Chinese, two Kenyans, one Iranian and one Malaysian.

Fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho is among those who will be stripped of Cypriot citizenship, the official said.

A Reuters investigation last month revealed wealthy relatives and allies of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had received Cypriot passports under the scheme.

Mr Hun Sen has previously denied opposition allegations that members of his inner circle had passports from other countries and lived the high life overseas.

Low, more popularly known as Jho Low, got a passport issued by the island state back in 2015, according to a report in the daily Politis last Sunday.

This came about after Malaysia revoked his passport and issued an arrest warrant against him.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has said Low and other accomplices siphoned US$4.5 billion (S$6.1 billion) from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which was set up in 2009 by then Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The DOJ last week reached a deal to recover almost US$1 billion in funds which Low and his family had allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB to buy luxury homes, expensive artwork and other investments.