ANKARA 

Greek Cypriot parliament speaker Demetris Syllouris resigned on Thursday after media reports exposed the country’s controversial “golden passport” citizenship program. 

Al Jazeera media network on Oct. 12 released a secretly recorded video of Syllouris and several other high-ranking Greek officials showing them talking to undercover reporters who posed as representatives of an imaginary Chinese businessman. 

Syllouris is seen saying that if enough money is invested in the Greek Cypriots scheme, the businessman would be able to get an EU passport. 

According to the report, roughly 1,400 people granted “golden passports” by the Greek Cypriot administration in 2017-2019 included people convicted of criminal offenses in their home countries as well as people wanted by Interpol.

Under the controversial program, anyone investing around $2.5 million in the territory could obtain citizenship.

Under fire after media reports, the Greek Cypriot administration decided to end its controversial “golden passport” citizenship program. 

The EU and anti-corruption NGOs have criticized the program as inviting money-laundering through Europe’s financial institutions.

European Commission spokesman Christian Wigand on Tuesday said the bloc watched the developments in “disbelief.”

“President [Ursula] von der Leyen was clear when saying that European values are not for sale,” he added. 

Wigand said the commission raised concerns about the citizenship scheme directly with Greek Cypriot authorities, adding they expect the “authorities to thoroughly look into this case.”

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