Comoros says abuse of passports-for-cash scheme worries Gulf allies

Comorian passports can be seen in this file photo.(Reuters)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Comoros says abuse of passports-for-cash scheme worries Gulf allies

MORONI: Comoros has sold citizenship to nearly 52,000 foreigners since 2009, the government said in the first official statement on the scale of a passports-for-cash deal with Gulf states.
Most of the documents had been sold under an approved scheme but there had been abuses that led to some Iranians buying passports, which had sparked tensions with Gulf allies, the country's foreign minister said.
Comoros struck a deal with the United Arab Emirates in 2008 to sell economic citizenship to stateless Bidoon people living in the Gulf in exchange for cash for the poor Indian Ocean nation. However, the Comoros parliament is investigating complaints of corruption and procedures not being followed.
The previously undisclosed tally for the number of passports sold means Comoros – a nation of some 800,000 people – should have received more than $260 million in revenues, a sum equivalent to over 40 percent of its gross domestic product.
However, Comoros investigators say large amounts of cash cannot be accounted for.
Sales on hold
A Reuters report last month detailed how some passports had been sold to foreigners outside the original accord, including people alleged to have broken sanctions on Iran.
Comoros Interior Minister Mohamed Daoudou said the sale of further passports and renewal of existing documents held by foreigners were on hold pending the parliamentary inquiry and investigations into sales to people outside official agreements.
The government says it has sought help from Interpol and U.S government investigators.
U.S. and Interpol officials contacted by Reuters could not confirm whether an official request had been made.
Some Comoros and Western officials fear that the scheme was hijacked by people looking to bypass sanctions on Iran.
"The vast majority of people who secured passports (outside the official programme) are of Iranian origin or are working for Iran," Foreign Minister Souef Mohamed El Amine said on Friday.


Polish parliament honors slain Gdansk mayor with prayer

Updated 16 January 2019
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Polish parliament honors slain Gdansk mayor with prayer

  • The attacker stabbed the mayor three times, in the heart and the abdomen
  • The stabbing happened while the mayor was onstage during a fundraising event

WARSAW: Polish lawmakers have paid respects to the popular mayor of Gdansk, who died after being stabbed by an ex-convict with a grudge.
Parliament members stood Wednesday for a minute of silence and prayed for Pawel Adamowicz, who died on Monday after being stabbed while onstage at a fundraising event the evening before.
Grzegorz Schetyna, the head of the opposition Civic Platform party, remembered Adamowicz as a courageous man who had devoted his life to his city, and blamed “insane hatred” for his killing.
The assailant stabbed Adamowicz three times in the heart and abdomen and told the crowd it was revenge against Civic Platform, which was in power when he was imprisoned for bank robberies. Adamowicz was a longtime member of the party but left it in 2015.