The anti-money laundering unit (Mokas) received around 270 requests to check individuals and transactions relating to the island’s citizenship by investment programme, the majority after 2015, an inquiry heard on Thursday.
However, apparently the fact that information had been sought was leaked to the service providers, or mediators, at the highest level, Eva Papakyriacou said, which brought pressure on Mokas.
The head of the panel, former supreme court judge Myron Nikolatos, asked Papakyriacou to provide them with the names of the mediators who were bothering the unit.
Papakyriacou said she complained to the interior ministry official handling the citizenship by investment programme, but she denied saying anything.
“It was said that they were being informed at the highest level,” Papakyriacou said, adding later that she had assumed it was the ministry.
Until 2019, the unit had responded to the ministry’s requests in writing, but it changed practice after realising that it could be misconstrued as a green light to grant a citizenship.
After that, the unit included a note saying their response was based on the information at the disposal of Mokas and it did not mean the person had nothing against them.
Mokas, the inquiry heard, had developed a database with companies and individuals they had dealt with.
“We received around 279 requests,” from the interior ministry, most after 2015, she said.
Papakyriacou added that the number of problematic cases was small.
She said she was receiving calls from service provides who learned that their client was being checked by Mokas even though they should not have known.
Papakyriacou said she expressed concerns over the way due diligence was being carried out despite assurances that the checks were sufficient.
She said she met former interior minister Constantinos Petrides at his office who “looked concerned about things that needed to be corrected.”