ANKARA

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

According to media reports following an extraordinary cabinet meeting, the administration decided to scrap the Citizenship by Investment Program as of Nov. 1.

The decision came after Al Jazeera reported that Demetris Syllouris, speaker of the local parliament, and lawmaker Christakis Giovanis had helped convicted criminals obtain Greek Cypriot administration citizenship under the program.

Giovanis announced his resignation, while Syllouris said he would step down from his duties until an investigation is completed.

According to Al Jazeera, the 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.

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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