Cyprus Mail

Anastasiades hits back at Akel over OCCRP criticism (Updated)

President Nicos Anastasiades

President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday broke his silence over a report linking his former law firm with the Troika Laundromat, censuring main opposition Akel over what he said was its leadership’s obsession to remove him from power.

In a written statement, the president addressed for the first time an August 14 report implying a link between him and his law firm with the Troika Laundromat, a network of shell companies that operated from 2006 to 2013 moving at least $4.6bn and enabling its users to hide assets, evade taxes or launder money, mainly for the benefit of senior leaders of politics and business in Russia.

Anastasiades described as unacceptable, Akel’s effort to dispute the ability and integrity of the state’s anti-money laundering unit Mokas to investigate the matter despite the report itself saying that “the documents do not contain any specific evidence that the firm or its employees broke any laws or committed any crimes.”

He accused the party of disregarding a series of measures that the government put in place aimed at restoring the state’s credibility, which had been left in tatters after the Akel administration.

The president included a link to the central bank’s webpage, listing all the anti-money laundering measures.

He also took a shot at Akel for attacking the government when the central bank issued a directive to shutter all shell companies.

“At the same time, I want to make it clear that such behaviour disregards the democratically expressed will of the people in February 2018 when 57 per cent handed me a strong mandate to administer the country until 2023.” The five-year mandate will change through democratic procedures in 2023 and not three and a half years before through party directives, he added.

Earlier, Akel suggested it was difficult for Anastasiades and ruling Disy to reply on the substance of the report.

“How else can we explain the fact that the Presidential Palace and Disy respond to anything apart from what President Anastasiades is accused of,” the party said. “Doesn’t Nikos Anastasiadis himself feel the duty to speak in person and give an answer to the society?”

On the Mokas probe, Akel said it would only mean something if it is not limited to the firm’s claims but if it also seeks information from OCCRP and the central bank.

Mokas said Wednesday it had already asked President Nicos Anastasiades’ former law firm for information regarding a report linking the company with the Troika Laundromat, a network of shell companies that operated from 2006 to 2013 moving at least $4.6bn.

The head of Mokas, Eva Papakyriakou, told the Cyprus News Agency that they had asked the firm for information about a report by the Organised Crime and Corruption Project (OCCRP) last Monday week, August 19.

On Tuesday, the firm’s CEO Stathis Lemis said Mokas had contacted them for further clarification on the claims of the non-governmental organisation.

Lemis said: “We call on them [Mokas] to conduct an investigation immediately.”

Anastasiades remained co-owner of the law firm he established in the 1970s until February 2013. His two daughters are currently shareholders.

Citing the contents from leaked documents of the now-defunct Lithuanian Ukio Bankas, OCCRP said that during the period when Anastasiades was a partner at the firm, it facilitated transactions carried out by four companies who were major players in the Troika Laundromat.

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