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Cyprus Investigates How Local Companies Help Russian Oligarchs

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Cyprus authorities probe Russian tycoon’s £1 billion transfer on EU sanctions day, says The Guardian. Credit: Public Domain

Cyprus law enforcement is investigating the attempted £1 billion (about $1.2 billion) stake transfer by a Russian oligarch on the day he faced EU sanctions. The inquiry is currently in progress, The Guardian reported.

This revelation follows the disclosure that local service providers in Cyprus may have played a significant role in assisting Russian oligarchs in safeguarding their assets from EU sanctions in the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Cyprus Official Reaction

The President of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, said no individual or entity was exempt from scrutiny, adding that “no one is above the reputation of the country.” He further expressed a commitment to thoroughly investigating all aspects brought to light by the Cyprus Confidential investigation. The comprehensive global probe involved examining about 3.6 million leaked documents from financial service providers in Cyprus.

Christodoulides emphasized the critical importance of preserving the country’s credibility as an international financial center. He declared a resolute response to the revelations and underscored the pivotal role of a strong economy in pursuing targeted social policies, including investments in health, education, and other sectors.

Konstantinos Letymbiotis, a government spokesperson, expressed “zero tolerance” for activities like sanctions violations, money laundering, and other illicit practices. He emphasized the potential threat these actions pose to efforts aimed at preventing Kremlin-linked oligarchs from safeguarding their vast wealth.

European Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni acknowledged the seriousness of the matter, stating that the EU Commission is closely monitoring the Cyprus Confidential papers. He also mentioned it is currently examining the reports and will provide a detailed response in due course. Sources within the executive body characterized the situation as a “very serious” issue, noting that they have already been in contact with authorities in Cyprus.

Cyprus’ Service Providers Suspected of Helping Russian Oligarchs

The leak has prompted questions about the involvement of service providers, including PwC Cyprus, in facilitating efforts by high-profile Russian clients to evade sanctions shortly after the launch of Putin’s war in Ukraine. Notably, the leak implicates PwC Cyprus in allegedly assisting the aforementioned £1 billion ($1,2B) stake transfer in Europe’s largest travel company, TUI, by Russian oligarch Alexei Mordashov on the day he faced EU sanctions, The Guardian reported.

A representative from the Cyprus Ministry of Finance had previously stated, “We are aware of TUI share transfers, and a criminal investigation is being carried [out].” Subsequently, insiders from the Cypriot government informed The Guardian that the financial crime squad of its police force is actively probing the TUI transaction.

PwC and a representative for Mordashov stated that they had no knowledge of any criminal investigation until The Guardian approached them.

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