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Explainer: What are The Cyprus Papers? | Cyprus News



The Cyprus Papers are a batch of leaked documents obtained exclusively by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, containing more than 1,400 approved applications for the Cyprus Investment Programme (CIP) run by the Republic of Cyprus.

The programme allows people to buy a Cypriot passport, and by extension become European Union citizens, by investing at least 2.15m euros ($2.5m) in the country.

The Cypriot passport allows its holder to travel freely to 174 countries, making the scheme popular with people from nations where visa-free travel is restricted.

The applications Al Jazeera obtained were submitted over two years between 2017 and 2019. Some include family members, which brings the total number of individuals granted European passports to nearly 2,500.

In the coming days, Al Jazeera will reveal the identities of dozens of people who acquired Cypriot citizenship and who, according to the country’s present rules, should not have received the document.

What is the Cyprus Investment Programme (CIP)?

The programme allows people from around the world to buy citizenship of the Republic of Cyprus. For a minimum investment of 2.15 million euros ($2.5m), people can become citizens of Cyprus and, by extension, citizens of the EU, with the ability to live, travel and work across the 27 EU member states.

What is the problem with buying citizenship?

There is nothing illegal with acquiring new citizenship and several countries, including Caribbean islands, offer this service.

The problem with turning citizenship into a commodity lies in the risk that people will abuse their newfound rights to escape accountability from their countries of origin.

In several cases, the investigation identified people who obtained their Cypriot passports shortly before criminal charges were filed against them. Several were living in exile, having been charged in absentia.

For many of the ultra-high net worth individuals in The Cyprus Papers, the $2.5m required to buy Cypriot passports is a small portion of their total wealth.

What wrongdoing did Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit find in The Cyprus Papers?

Among the 2,500 names that appear on the leaked documents, there are dozens of individuals who anti-corruption campaigners say should not have been granted Cypriot citizenship, or who could be stripped of their Cypriot citizenship because of criminal activity following the granting of their passports.

Know more about nefarious passport sales or other wrongdoing? Find out how to get in touch with us on our Tips page.

Why do critics say some of these people should not have been allowed passports?

From the programme’s inception in 2013, applicants had to prove they had a clean criminal record, although it was up to the applicants to establish this themselves.

In response to criticism, changes to the scheme’s rules were announced in February 2019.

Applicants were banned from acquiring Cypriot citizenship if they had ever been under investigation, faced criminal charges or had past criminal convictions. Individuals who were placed under international sanctions by the EU or third-party countries such as the United States, Russia or Ukraine, as well as those who work for a sanctioned entity, were banned from acquiring a Cypriot passport.

Finally, elected or appointed government officials, known as “politically exposed persons” or “PEPs”, were also prevented from acquiring citizenship. But these rules are not retrospective so those who had already bought a passport by then could keep it.

What’s the problem with these politically exposed persons – or ‘PEPs’?

Corruption experts claim that PEPs – even where they have not been accused of any wrongdoing – by virtue of the fact that they have access to public funds and the decision-making process in disbursing those funds, are considered to be at a much higher risk of corruption.

In countries with a poor rule of law, the principal means of getting rich can be to control the provision of public funds. This could be either as a public official who might receive bribes to be induced to award government contracts to privileged private-sector partners, or by private-sector actors who might inflate invoices and pocket the extra money from public funds.

Where do these newly naturalised Cypriots hail from?

Citizenship applications came from all over the world, more than 70 countries in total. The countries with the highest numbers of applicants were Russia (1,000), China (500) and Ukraine (100). However, there were also people from the United Kingdom and the US, Mali and Morocco, Israel, Palestine, South Africa, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Why is this such a big problem?

The Cypriot government has been found to have granted European citizenship to criminals, those under criminal investigation and to people who are considered to be at a high risk of corruption – on a scale that critics claim is systematic.

The European Commission, as well as leading anti-corruption NGOs Global Witness and Transparency International, have criticised the Cyprus Investment Programme and want it phased out.

They claim the programme has facilitated the laundering of stolen assets from Russia and beyond, and has eroded trust in financial institutions in the EU.

So what does Cyprus say and what will happen now?

The Cypriot government says it has tightened its rules and that each application submitted under the CIP was in accordance with the regulations in place at the time.

Cyprus has now promised to strip some naturalised Cypriots of their citizenship if they are guilty of serious wrongdoing.

In July 2020, it passed a law allowing this to happen. The interior minister says, as an EU member state, it functions with absolute transparency.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

Source –

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