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Cyprus

Anti-money laundering unit irked by doubters

Head of Mokas Eva Papakyriakou,

The anti-money laundering unit Mokas expressed its displeasure on Friday over suggestions that it would not carry out a credible investigation into a report linking President Nicos Anastasiades and his former law firm with the Troika Laundromat.

In response to public statements disputing its independence and impartiality, Mokas on Friday expressed its displeasure over what it called the direct and unprecedented mistrust of institutions.

“Mokas is not an independent service but it falls under the Republic’s Legal Service, directly answerable to the attorney-general,” the unit said in a statement, questioning whether the institution of the AG was being disputed.

Public statements that “a truly independent investigation, which must be internationally credible, should have been requested,” offends the service’s impartiality and that of the Legal Service, Mokas said.

The unit said it enjoyed wide recognition and respect abroad, both by individual units and international organisations.

“We will not make public statements about our actions, nor will we respond to any queries about the case,” the statement said. “The final report with the findings will be submitted to the attorney-general when completed.”

The case concerns an August 14 report by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project implying a link between Anastasiades 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 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.

It said 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 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.”

But the report also made clear that the documents seen, “do not contain any specific evidence that the firm or its employees broke any law or committed any crime”.



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