Demetris Syllouris, the Speaker of the Cypriot parliament, will step down from October 19 in the wake of a golden passport scandal.

Syllouris was secretly filmed while offering to help a fictitious Chinese businessman with a criminal record obtain a Cypriot passport in exchange for investing more than two million euros in property on the island.

Cyprus has been running a scheme for several years in which non-EU individuals invest a minimum of two million euros in property for which they are given a Cypriot passport. This enables them to travel throughout the European Union without passport checks.

Malta and Bulgaria operate similar schemes, as do many of the UK dependencies in the Caribbean.

The system has attracted many investors with large amounts of cash and the system is open to widespread abuse. Many Russian businessmen have been clients of the scheme, particularly in Cyprus.

PHOTO: Demetris Syllouris Reuters