THE EFFORT TO HARM CYPRUS AS A RELIABLE FINANCIAL CENTRE
From the “Manafort” case, to the report by Russian website www.versia.ru and from there… to Kazakhstan and Bloomberg’s references to laundering of “dirty” Russians
Negative reports that harm Cyprus’ image as a reliable financial centre and attractive investment destination have been multiplying lately. Even though our country has intensified its efforts over the past few years to achieve a stricter supervisory framework, there appears to be no end to media reports that show Cyprus operating as a money laundering centre. The grey clouds are increasing by the day.
It all started with the “Manafort” case and the discovery of suspicious transactions by the former head of Donald Trump’s election campaign. The investigations and uproar continue unabated. A few days ago, CNN hosted American congressman Mike Quigley. Responding to relevant questions about his trip to Cyprus and the information he found, he said our country is a well-known money launderer.
Straight after the “Manafort” case, another case came under the international microscope. A report by Russian website www.versia.ru, which was supported by an older article in British newspaper The Guardian, refers to the activities of Russian tycoon Alexander Shchukin and the suspicious routes of millions of euros from Russia to the United Kingdom, through companies headquartered in Cyprus.
It further notes that Shchukin, using illicit and unfair practices, would blackmail his competitors, managing to bring coal mines under his control, which he would then transfer to Cypriot offshore companies. At the same time, the Russian Police appeared to have applied to Interpol to investigate all of Shchukin’s offshore companies and bank accounts in Cyprus.
We are also in trouble with an oligarch from Kazakhstan. Specifically, the state bank of Kazakhstan is asking the Cypriot authorities to issue an arrest and trial warrant in Cyprus for Mukhtar Ablyazov. Ablyazov, who is accused of embezzling in the range of €5b from state bank BTA, appears to have channelled a large part of the sums through Cyprus banking institutions.
The final blow came from the Bloomberg news agency, which more or less says that the island no longer does money laundering, but laundering of dirty Russians. Limassol is even presented as an annex to Moscow.
Certainly, the question that arises is not just whether the institutional Authorities are concerned about the spiral of negative reports in the international press. It is whether what they are doing is enough to deal with them. The image and reputation of Cyprus must be protected.
In the recent past, our country paid dearly for the climate that was created internationally over its bank system, but also the biased way in which foreign media covered the developments.