The Auditor General of Cyprus, Odysseas Michailides, has launched an audit of 70 employees of the Wargaming Studio who received Cypriot passports in the 2012-2020 period . This was written on Facebook (link) by the leader of the “Russian party”, a member of the political Council of the EOP (EOP is a political party of Cyprus) Alexey Voloboev. According to him, the government of Cyprus has the task to take away their passports.
“It is much easier to take away passports from clean, toothless IT-guys than from toothy sharks with dirty money and methods. Moreover, the authorities are deeply involved in their local criminal schemes in cooperation with major international scoundrels and do not want it all to come out»
– Alexey Voloboev.
In a conversation with Forbes, Voloboev said that the co-founders of Wargaming, Viktor Kislyi and Ivan Mikhnevich, received Cyprus passports in 2012, when they moved the company’s headquarters there. Later, some employees from among the top management of the Studio also received passports. According to Mikhnevich, who left the company in 2014, until 2013 passports in Cyprus were issued “for special merits or large investments.”
“We moved a company that already had serious success and earnings, and paid so much tax that it was enough to get citizenship. What we are talking about in the post is 70 passports – they were received by important employees of Wargaming. When Nicos Anastasiades became President of Cyprus, a tariff was announced — how much money you need to spend to get one passport. At first, this amount was $5 million. The Wargaming company bought and completed buildings, by and large the whole street that goes to the presidential Palace in Nicosia, it is time to rename it “Wargaming Boulevard”»
– Ivan Mikhnevich, co-founder of Wargaming.
According to Mikhnevich and Voloboev, at the moment Wargaming is the largest IT company in Cyprus in terms of number of employees and the size of investments. While the audit does not affect anyone personally, now the office of the Auditor General checks the documentation in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which issued passports. Based on this check, the auditor’s report will be made.
The program for issuing “Golden” passports, or obtaining citizenship in exchange for investment, has been operating in Cyprus in its current form since 2013. Since then, the government has repeatedly carried out inspections of compliance with its terms. In particular, in September, the police began investigating the procedure for obtaining citizenship by 42 investors who were included in a “high-risk group”.
At the beginning of November 2020, the authorities of Cyprus completely canceled the program for granting citizenship in exchange for investment. This happened after the scandal caused by the investigation of the Al-Jazeera TV channel. The journalists posed as a Chinese citizen, allegedly convicted in their homeland for money laundering. After contacting lawyers, realtors and even the speaker of Parliament, they received confirmation that citizenship of the Republic can be granted even to a convicted person if they have money, while the authorities of Cyprus have publicly announced a strict system for selecting applicants for the program.
Wargaming does not disclose its financial performance. Kislyi explained this in a conversation with RBC that he was not ready to “show all the cards to the competition”, and said only that the company’s revenue is measured in “hundreds of millions of dollars”. In 2015, Bloomberg estimated the developer’s revenue at $590 million, the same amount counted by experts of the research company Newzoo.
Source: Forbes Russia, link.