Media reports implying a link between President Nicos Anastasiades, his law firm and the so-called Troika laundromat on Sunday led to a war or words between Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodomou and main opposition party Akel.
“It is not about statements and counter statements. Answers have been given,” Prodromou said about the report.
Prodromou said “allegations on various websites have been investigated by authorities of various countries, including the US, without any result. It is frustrating, and everybody can think about why some people raise such an issue. There is nothing else to add, nor do I think Akel can say anything since it said it does not adopt these allegations”.
The claims were made in a report by the Organised Crime and Corruption Project (OCCRP) on Wednesday which implied a link between the president, his law firm and the Troika Landromat, a network of shell companies that operated from 2006 to 2013 moving billions of dollars and allowing its users to hide assets, evade taxes and launder money.
“The fact that at times some are trying to hurt our country’s reputation, this is a given. This was also the case when Akel was in government. Unfortunately, it’s still happening,” Prodromou said.
“We must put all safeguards against such attempts and make sure Cyprus is not included” among countries named as suspect on such sites, Prodromou concluded.
In a statement later Akel said they would expect Anastasiades and his office to respond substantially to refute what is being said. “Instead, they declare they will not deal with what the International Observatory is saying but will turn against those who republish the texts or ask questions about their content here in Cyprus.“This gives rise to a reasonable question: what are they afraid of?” Akel said, adding that they were only interested in clearing their name internally not that of Cyprus internationally.
Responding, Prodromou said Akel had a very short memory as in its statement it also criticised the current government for introducing a passports for investment scheme.
In 2010 when Neoclis Sylikiotis was minister he was defending the island’s right to give naturalisation to foreigners when international publications criticised the island attracting the economically powerful from various countries, especially Russia. He also defended the practice in an article in The Guardian in March 2013 which said the island had ‘colluded’ with Russia.
“Yet,” the spokesman said, “Akel today calls on the President to provide explanations for an anonymous libelous website linking the him to the activities of a Mr Abramov, who the Akel government naturalized! This is a monumental hypocrisy!”
In addition outright slander, the spokesman said, while the website’s documents claims to have documents that do not show a breach of law they do show the well-known trope that has been circulating since the time of the Akel government “linking” Cyprus with Russian international networks and “suspicious transactions”.
While asking from the president, Akel should itself answer the question what they have done to clear the name of the republic internationally, Prodromou said.
On Sunday, Disy issued a statement saying “the adoption of online publications that try to undermine the credibility of Cyprus and the President of the Republic without documentation does not help our country, where one of the most important sectors of our economy is the financial sector”.
On Saturday the president’s former law firm said it was ready to take legal action against the organisation that first published the allegations.
On Friday Akel said is was concerned by the reports which linked Cyprus with money laundering and implicated the president and his law firm with suspicious dealings.