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HomeDefenceUkraine: Cyprus Says it is Cracking Down on Sanctions Violations Against Russia

Ukraine: Cyprus Says it is Cracking Down on Sanctions Violations Against Russia

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Cyprus announced on Saturday that it had taken tough action against people accused by the United States and the United Kingdom of helping Russian oligarchs circumvent sanctions imposed on Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine. Finance Commissioner Pavlos Ioannou told state broadcaster CyBC that the assets of the affected individuals and entities had been frozen.

The Greek-language Cypriot daily Phileleftheros reported that Bank of Cyprus, the island’s main bank, “informed 4,000 customers with Russian passports and not residing in an EU country that their accounts would be closed ”.

Cyprus has for years been home to a large Russian community, particularly in Limassol on the south coast, a haven for wealthy Russian nationals.

Thirteen Cypriot or dual national “ financiers ” have been sanctioned by the UK and US for helping Russian oligarchs conceal their assets following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Cypriot government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis claimed this week that Nicosia is committed to prosecuting any Cypriot accused by the US and UK of allowing oligarchs to evade sanctions.

According to him, President Nikos Christodoulides has contacted Washington and London to obtain evidence against those involved so that they can be investigated in their countries.

The governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus, Constantinos Herodotou, said this week that Cypriot banks had frozen the accounts of the 13 accused persons and a number of companies based in Cyprus.

In recent years, the authorities have also closed 43,000 shell companies and 123,000 ” suspicious ” bank accounts, he added. Only 2.2% of all bank deposits on the island are currently owned by Russians, according to the governor.

Christos Clerides, president of the Cyprus Bar Association, told CyBC that the US and UK approach was ” over the top ” and had not been embraced by Brussels.

The United Kingdom and the United States announced on April 12 sanctions against relatives of Russian oligarchs, including members of the entourage of Roman Abramovich and Alicher Usmanov, accused of having helped them to conceal their assets.

Among the targets of these new British sanctions are Demetris Ioannides and Christodoulos Vassiliades, two Cypriot nationals. According to London, the first is at the origin of offshore structures used by Roman Abramovich to conceal 760 million pounds sterling (863 million euros) before being sanctioned in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Source: Le Figaro

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