Cyprus, long popular with Russians seeking to shield their money from instability at home, said on Wednesday it was taking steps to conform with European Union sanctions on individuals considered close to the Russian state.

“There is a limited number of cases of sanctioned individuals who happen to have assets also in Cyprus, among many other EU member-states. The relevant authorities of the Republic are in the process of taking the required steps, as prescribed by the relevant Council of the European Union decisions,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Meantime the finance ministry issued clarifications on what the EU sanctions imposed on Russian persons and entities, entail here in Cyprus.

In a statement, the ministry said it is awaiting official guidance from the European Commission on a number of issues.

But for the time being, what applies is as follows: the provision of services to persons and entities subject to sanctions is permitted (but severely restricted) only insofar as these services are designed to keep these entities a going concern and allow them to perform basic functions, without which they could not operate lawfully.

Citing guidance from the EU, the ministry said such basic services include: compiling annual financial statements; bookkeeping; tax declarations, ensuring the administrative management of a company; and payment of taxes.

The ministry warned that should it subsequently emerge that the services provided to an entity subject to sanctions were not necessary, payment for such services will not be approved.

Regarding the authorisation of general payments to persons subject to restrictions, the ministry said that the cash they keep in banks may be released for the purpose of repaying dues to the state – like taxes, social insurance contributions and utility bills.

On the prohibition of accepting deposits more than €100,000 per bank by Russian nationals, individuals residing in Russia, or legal entities or organisations established in Russia, the ministry said this restriction should not apply in cases where the amounts are intended to pay off own liabilities, such as for loans and current accounts.