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Vietnam to probe ‘foreign citizenship’ status of lawmaker

Thursday, August 27, 2020, 11:22 GMT+7
Vietnam to probe ‘foreign citizenship’ status of lawmaker
Vietnam's National Assembly deputy Pham Phu Quoc, who serves the 2016-21 tenure, speaks at an NA meeting in Hanoi in a file photo. Photo: Quochoi.vn

Vietnamese National Assembly deputy Pham Phu Quoc will be subjected to explaining his case and giving personal views on the ongoing controversy regarding his Cypriot citizenship status, an NA official said.

Tran Van Tuy, head of the Deputies’ Affairs Committee under the NA Standing Committee said on Tuesday that information regarding Quoc’s foreign citizenship will be reviewed by relevant agencies.

Dozens of major political figures and their families have bought Cyprus citizenship through the ‘golden passport’ program of the Cypriot government, Al Jazeera reported on Monday after obtaining what they call 'The Cyprus Papers.'

Such papers are a batch of leaked documents containing more than 1,400 approved applications for the Cyprus Investment Programme (CIP) run by the Republic of Cyprus.

“The programme allows people to buy a Cypriot passport, and by extension become European Union citizens, by investing at least €2.15 million ($2.5 million) in the country,” Al Jazeera wrote in their investigative report.

Named in the papers is Pham Phu Quoc, a current NA representative from Ho Chi Minh City whose five-year tenure will be completed in 2021.

The revelation of Quoc’s dual citizenship has been a hot topic in Vietnamese media over the past week.

Quoc on Tuesday confirmed his Cypriot citizenship status in an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper where he addressed the controversy.

“I started having Cyprus citizenship in mid-2018. However, it came about from the petition of my family, so the notion that I bought a second citizenship is false,” he told Tuoi Tre.

Tuy said he has mobilized the support unit of the Deputies’ Affairs Committee to verify this information.

The official refused to comment further on the issue, citing a lack of information as well as respect for the NA deputy’s legislative immunity as prescribed in Vietnam’s Constitution and laws.

“We are going to request NA deputy Pham Phu Quoc to provide specific information, while the Ho Chi Minh City NA Delegation and the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee in Ho Chi Minh City will provide their input,” Tuy said.

“Subsequently, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly will review the situation in accordance with related regulations of the law."

In the Al Jazeera report published on Monday, Quoc was classified as one of 'Politically Exposed Persons' – those who are at higher risk of corruption because they or their family members hold some form of government position.

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Xuan Tung - Le Kien / Tuoi Tre News

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