But some of the passport programs are now seen as gateways for crime and corruption, and a threat to the integrity of the European Union, as these passports give the right to travel to the 27 member countries of The union. The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has said programs in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta are particularly vulnerable to corruption.
The Commission is considering possible legal action against Cyprus in this regard, said Christian Wigand, Commission spokesperson.
He said EU officials “watched in disbelief” the covert investigation, carried out by Al Jazeera and made public on Monday, purported to show senior Cypriot officials willing to trade EU citizenship for financial gain.
“European values are not for sale,” Wigand said, repeating a statement made by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her State of the Union address last month.
The passport program prohibits anyone with a criminal record from applying. But Mr Syllouris and Mr Giovanis were filmed saying they would help secure a passport for a wealthy Chinese businessman – who they were told fled China after being sentenced to seven years in prison for corruption and money laundering.