I am utterly appalled by the international reputation Cyprus has for attracting investment from ‘colourful characters’.
I am aware that other countries also attract money from shady sources and that they often take a ‘live and let live’ attitude until some external actor or mega-scandal forces them to clean up their act. However, it appears that, despite our small size, we are exceptionally skilled at getting the scum of the earth to invest in our shores.
It is whispered that we helped the late Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic evade UN Sanctions and arms embargoes and that we also cooperated in his theft of an unknown amount of money from his countrymen.
It is whispered that one Cyprus’s established political parties was a conduit for investment from the late Libyan tyrant, Muammar Gaddafi.
It is whispered by some Cypriots that the French fascist Jean Marie Le Pen and his daughter, Presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen have dealings with a prominent Limassol’s law firm.
It is whispered that we also enabled Vladimir Putin’s thuggish, kleptocratic regime to stash some of their ill-gotten billions in Cyprus. It is whispered that we have even helped him crack down on people who have stood up and blown the whistle on the corruption of his minions, as the recent controversy over the Magnitsky affair proved.
Now, it is being whispered that Donald J Trump is trying to gain a casino/luxury resort licence from the authorities.
A lot of Cypriots will deny all these allegations. They will say that these are all lies concocted by people out to hurt Cyprus. It could be people who want to help the Turks, or it could be people jealous of our financial sector. It could be people who want to destroy our tourism and gain our customers, or it could be the jolly green giant living on the moon.
There is an idiom that applies here. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. In other words, it can’t all be untrue. Other Cypriots may say “We can’t really follow ethical standards because we are a special case. We have to focus on resolving the Cyprus Problem. We can’t deal with the other issues.” They have been saying things like that for over forty years.
Panayiota McGarry, Limassol