Cyprus will investigate alleged violations of sanctions against Russia

Cyprus will investigate alleged violations of sanctions against Russia

An investigation conducted by an international union of journalists points the finger at the Mediterranean island, which serves as a center for Russian oligarchs.

Cyprus promised on Tuesday to investigate alleged violations of sanctions imposed on Moscow. It was revealed by an investigation conducted by the International Federation of JournalistsAccording to which the Mediterranean island is considered a center for Russian money laundering.

According to an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 67 partner media outlets, published on Tuesday, Cyprus “plays a larger role than was generally known in transferring dirty money on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin.” Putin and other dictators.

The consortium claims to have examined confidential documents covering the period from the mid-1990s until April 2022, including organizational charts, financial statements, bank account applications and emails.

“Everything revealed will be investigated.”

The investigation, titled “Secret in Cyprus” in English, says these documents “provide an in-depth look at the corrupt financial system that has helped empower some of the West’s most determined enemies.”

President Nikos Christodoulides responded, saying: “Everything that has been revealed will be investigated, and no one is above our country’s reputation.”

He told reporters, “All the information revealed will be investigated within a specific time frame (…) The reputation of our country and the credibility of our country (…) is extremely important.”

Cyprus, a member of the European Union, is regularly labeled as a haven for Russian oligarchs to launder their money and circumvent European and US sanctions imposed on Moscow.

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A large Russian community on the island

The island has for years been home to a large Russian community, especially in Limassol on the southern coast, which hosts wealthy Russian citizens.

Last April, Cyprus announced that it had taken tough measures against people accused by the United States and the United Kingdom of helping Russian oligarchs circumvent sanctions. But ICIJ’s eight-month investigation notes Russia’s “long-term dominance” of the Cypriot political and financial worlds, which are deeply intertwined.

The Central Bank said in April that the Cypriot authorities had closed 43,000 shell companies and 123,000 “suspicious” bank accounts in recent years. Only 2.2% of total bank deposits on the island are currently owned by Russians, according to the same source.

The UK and US have imposed sanctions on thirteen Cypriot or dual-national “financiers” for helping Russian oligarchs hide their assets after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

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