Cyprus is under harsh criticism from at least three foreign embassies that accuse the government and local municipalities of not doing enough to shut down a fake marriage industry.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the Cypriot government is aware of complaints against local authorities in connection with sham marriages conducted in a number of municipalities.
Stories in the Greek Cypriot media this week reported that foreign embassies, including the missions of Romania and Portugal, have complained about the existence of an illegal network in Cyprus in connection with sham marriages.
The story involves a large number of women from European Union countries who are often involved in civil marriages in Cyprus with foreign men, typically from African or Asian countries, in exchange for money.
But last year more specific accusations were leveled against Cyprus, when Latvian government officials raised a red flag over civil marriages between women from Latvia and men from Asian countries.
According to Latvia’s accusations, as reported in the media, the Aradippou local municipality officiated at a very large number of civil marriages without obtaining proper documentation.
Municipal authorities in Aradippou were accused of officiating marriages between Latvian women and men from India, Pakistan, and Nepal, while legal documents or marriage licences were never issued by Latvian authorities.
The Latvian government also went as far as to raise issues of transparency with Aradippou authorities.
Additional reports said the embassies of Romania and Portugal also raised questions of due diligence, with media reports pointing to at least one married woman who got married to three other men in Cyprus using a different name each time.
A local representative in Aradippou told state radio on Wednesday that there was no fraud on their part, adding that it was the responsibility of the Interior Ministry and Migration department to enforce the law.
The government is scheduled to hold a meeting about the issue, with reports saying the discussion will be linked to a wider effort to combat illegal immigration and human trafficking. [Kathimerini Cyprus]