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Anastasiades warns those he says instigated report into his former law firm

Outgoing EU humanitarian commissioner Christos Stylianides has been rumoured to be the one behind the report

President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday blamed specific individuals whom he refused to name for being the instigators of a report linking him and his former law firm with the Troika Laundromat and warned that he was running out of patience.

“I know full well who directs them and who the authors are; I don’t want to say anything beyond this. I just want to warn that patience has limits,” Anastasiades said during an interview with Alfa television.

The president sought to stress that he was not blaming any political party, namely Akel, which he said was just capitalising on something other people instigated “thinking they can hurt Nicos Anastasiades because they think I did them an injustice.”

Pressed by the reporter to name the people he was talking about, more specifically if – as has been rumoured – he was referring to Cypriot EU commissioner Christos Stylianides who was not reappointed to his post, the president responded with “no comment”.

“I made no reference to any name, any incident. I am simply saying it would be good for them to be very careful if they think they will hurt Nicos Anastasiades,” he said.

Anastasiades said the report was a fabrication that tried to link companies that are indeed clients of his former firm with others that were not.

“But they want to attach them to us to arrive to the conclusion that the law office is involved in money laundering with a transaction worth €229m or €320m,” he said.

The case concerns an August 14 report by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) 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”.

The case is under investigation by Cyprus’ anti-money laundering unit, Mokas.

 

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