Main opposition Akel demanded an explanation on Friday over a report linking President Nicos Anastasiades and his law firm with the Troika Laundromat, a network of shell companies that operated from 2006 to 2013 moving at least $4.6b and enabling its users to hide assets, evade taxes, or launder money.
In a statement on Friday, the party said it was concerned by reports linking Cyprus with money laundering and implicating the president and his law firm in suspicious dealings.
“The Republic of Cyprus is being derided since it is implicated in suspicious money dealings, as well as Mr. Anastasiades himself,” the party said.
The OCCRP report, published on Wednesday, cited records from the defunct Lithuanian Ukio Bankas that linked Nicos Chr. Anastasiades and Partners LLC to complex deals that moved Russian money to and from shell companies created by and associated with the firm.
Two of those shells – Batherm Ventures Ltd. and Matias Co Ltd – had sent more than $323m into the system for various reasons, mostly unknown, the report said.
“The leaked documents also suggest that Alexander Abramov, a Russian billionaire, was behind both companies, and that he used them to buy a major Russian energy concern at an enormous discount. Abramov later received a Cypriot EU passport with the help of the Anastasiades law firm.”
Neither Anastasiades, who said he had left the firm following his election in 2013, nor his daughters, who are partners, or the other partners, commented on the report despite being asked.
OCCRP said Anastasiades still has a private office in the building (where only one other affiliated firm is a co-tenant).
Akel said it did not adopt the contents of the report but it wanted Anastasiades to provide a convincing response on all issues raised relating to money laundering by various international observatories.
“This serious charge is hanging over our country for years and the president needs to take the lead and rid us of it. Especially from the moment his law firm is implicated in alleged suspicious transactions,” the party said.
The documents did not contain any specific evidence that the firm or its employees broke any laws or committed any crimes but they reinforce long-standing concerns about relationships that some say have compromised Cyprus’ independence.
“Russian money laundering, admittedly the biggest threat to the European financial system, has been funnelled historically through the Baltics and Cyprus with the latter assuming a more fundamental role as a conduit for dirty capital flows,” said Roman Borisovich, a former banker and leader of ClampK, a UK-based anti-corruption organisation. “The ongoing dismantling of this system will have a devastating effect on the finance and economy of both. However, if in Latvia the damage was done primarily by the Russian and foreign bankers, in Cyprus the problem is homegrown.”
“It is the Cypriot lawyers, accountants, and other corruption enablers who destroyed their island’s financial system from within, and their compatriots should hold them responsible for these treasonous acts,” Borisovich added.