TV station Al Jazeera, which broke the story about the “golden passports” corruptly finding their way to “investors” of dubious reputation, now claims that middlemen employ Cyprus to provide false identities to “investors” looking to hide corrupt money behind opaque offshore trusts.
Posing as representatives of a Chinese criminal with convictions for bribery and money laundering, dubbed Mr X, Al Jazeera’s undercover reporters reached the brink of striking a deal to buy football club Derby County.
The network’s undercover operatives had a series of covertly filmed meetings with Christopher Samuelson, an offshore trust expert and football dealmaker described as “the ultimate man in the shadows.”
In the footage, unfazed by news of the dubious investor’s past, Samuelson lays out a roadmap for Mr X to use offshore trusts to hide his money.
He suggests that Mr X, who was supposedly sentenced in absentia to seven years imprisonment and smuggled his money out of China through Macau casinos, could be given a whole new identity through acquiring an EU passport from Cyprus.
Al Jazeera’s undercover journalists were introduced to a host of characters, including “Chris,” or Christakis Giovani, an opposition MP with the communist AKEL party and one of Cyprus’ better known property developers.
Giovani and former House speaker Demetris Syllouris were among those caught on tape last year when Al Jazeera’s documentary disclosed the illegalities behind Cyprus’ tarnished passports-for-cash scheme that sought to attract investors.
Both Syllouris and Giovani resigned their posts in the wake of those revelations.
On Tuesday, the Giovani Group denied having any connections to English football or that any group client had connections to any UK club.
The group’s statement said its executives were “unjustly targeted” by Al Jazeera for reasons they could not comprehend.