Source Pravda.Ru

Should Cypriot authorities better check those who apply for their "golden passports"?

On the 27th of April 2015, a cherished dream of a Russian entrepreneur, Emil Gaynulin, who is one of the beneficiaries in Podvodtruboprovodstroy (PTPS) - one of the major subcontractors of a Russian state owned Gazprom, came true - on this very day he received his Cypriot Passport - a document that allowed him freely to move around the globe.

Cypriot nationality was obtained by Emil Gaynulin via an investment - he paid more than €3.5 million for a luxurious villa, located in one of the most prestigious areas of the city of Limassol, in a place called Ayios Tychonas (address: 2 Atlantidos Street, Sea Gallery Villas, Ayios Tychonas, Limassol, 4532, Republic of Cyprus).

"Cyprus Citizenship by Investment" program has been repeatedly criticized by the EU regulators, inter alia, due to the fact, that various "New Cypriots", primarily of a Russian origin, enjoyed the lack of compliance, which allowed them to move and launder their funds.

Cypriot authorities have repeatedly stated, that only individuals without a criminal past, as well as those, who can clearly explain their source of funds, should become national of an EU member state; but does this necessarily represent the true matter of facts?

Emil Gaynulin's case may serve, as a very good example of the opposite - for instance, whilst applying for his European nationality, he deliberately failed to reveal, that, in November 1999, the Russian Law Office launched a criminal investigation No. 29/00/0017-96 against him and his fellow associates from FPK "Lyucon", which led to his immediate arest in Prague, Czech Republic, and extradition back home.

Should Cypriots thoroughly examined Emil Gaynulin' (who, in 1993-1999, served as a vice president of "Lyucon") affairs, they most probably would become aware of him being charged for a commitment of various quite serious economic crimes.

As a matter of fact, during this particular period, Emil Gaynulin reportedly made his "first" million, leading to an establishment of a financial basis for his future Cyprus investments.

Experts believe, that Emil Gaynulin' participation in this company alone could be referred to, as a fair ground for a refusal in obtaining an EU nationality - FPK Lyucon, which stands for "Lyubertsy Concern", was set up with the funds of one of the most brutal and bloody Russian criminal gangs - Lyuberetskie, however, this did not happen, moreover, Cypriot authorities allowed Emil Gaynulin to invest further US$100 million in a business of Equix Group, a company, which, in 2015, opened a number of stores in the newly built Limassol Marina, including a Graff Diamonds' boutique.

It is hard to disagree, that by making Emil Gaynulin a European, Cypriot authorities established a certain level of a "standard" for others - similar "golden passports" applicants.

Further to that, Emil Gaynulin was even allowed to make a living from the passport scheme - in 2016, his Russian business partners, Ruslan Goryukhin and Mikhail Oppenheim, received their identity papers, as a result of an acquisition of a pair of luxury villas with moorings for motor yachts in the Limassol Marina, of course, with Emil Gaynulin' assistance (it is worth noting, that Emil Gaynulin' commission from the sale of this real estate added a round and fabulous about of €1 million into his purse).

Inspired by such a success, Emil Gaynulin managed to get a co-investor in Equix Group' operations - in 2016, a daughter of Michael Oppenheim invested €2.5 million in Halcyon Gallery supplemented with a purchase of a house, located in a village in a close proximity from Limassol, paying an additional €0.5 million - apparently, for the sake of obtaining a "golden passport", she decided to keep her eyes closed and omit the fact, that its cost was artificially increased.

What is the reason for such "generosity"?

The reason is, that alike Emil Gaynulin, Ruslan Goryukhin and Mikhail Oppenheim make their money from the appropriation of Russian state funds, by creating the appearance of construction works for various largest corporations - according to the information in hand, the price exceeded three times an average - it's obvious, that with multibillion-dollar volumes of cash inflows and minimal tax deductions such "trifles" as investments in Cypriot nationality is relevantly insignificant.

It is quite possible, that having a more rational approach implemented, people like Emil Gaynulin would not need to create a feigned appearance of a charity, and the Russian state would have sufficient funds on their own to fund its social programs.

In all fairness, it is worth mentioning, that unlike Emil Gaynulin, his former business partner in Equix Group, Rustem Magdeev, is a true philanthropist - he builds mosques, helps Russian athletes, finances the production of various documentaries, and, most recently, sponsored the installation of a Rudolf Nuriev' monument, in Kazan, for which he received, in certain circles, the nickname: "Flying Tatar."

It may well be the case, that Rustem Magdeev, unlike Cypriot authorities, finally managed to make his checks - recently, he redeemed Emil Gaynulin' shares at Equix Group, in order not to burden himself with such damaging ties.