After Cyprus breathed an initial sigh of relief on Friday over the UK’s and US’ latest round of sanctions, which did not appear to identify additional Cypriot individuals or entities, conflicting statements about the impact emerged shortly afterwards.
A source from the finance ministry told CNA that at first glance there do not appear to be any new additions, but a later clarification explained that the US list has not yet been published and is expected later Friday.
Another source later told the agency that the updated British list does include links to companies based in Cyprus.
The UK list was published earlier in the day.
President Nikos Christodoulides said early on Friday morning he would not cover for anyone found to be violating sanctions.
Local media reported that the latest UK sanctions target Russian nationals and entities, with state broadcaster CyBC reporting that from the list there is no individual or company with an obvious Cyprus connection.
Amid evidence that existing sanctions were being weakened by circumvention, the G7 said the group was “engaging”” with countries through which any restricted G7 goods, services or technology could transit through to Russia.
“We note and encourage commitments made by these countries to ensure our measures are not circumvented and have the intended effect,” they said, without naming any territories.
Prior to the announcement, Christodoulides issued a harsh warning to any potential violators.
“When there is a rotten apple it must be removed,” Christodoulides said, adding that no one will be covered for if they are found to have acted improperly.
The new lists of those involved in violating sanctions targeting the service sector’s dealings with Russians deemed dangerous by the West were released amid fevered speculation in Cyprus.
Christodoulides said the government had been informed on Thursday night about the names of legal and physical entities in Cyprus on the list.
Meanwhile finance ministry permanent secretary Giorgos Panteli told the Cyprus News Agency “there is cautious optimism that there won’t be the surprises which occurred last time”.
Christodoulides also sought to address criticism levied by some that Cyprus is too eagerly kowtowing to foreign governments and is endangering the related sectors.
“The message is clear: I’m not here to cover for anyone, those who violate the sanctions are the ones creating problems for the country’s reputation and the sector itself,” he warned.
Elsewhere, government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis told state broadcaster CyBC that the government acted swiftly and decisively with the first round to ensure Cyprus’ reputation is upheld internationally.
“The government clearly stated that it will decisively investigate all the details, where and if it is found that there were violations of the sanctions then these cases will be brought to justice,” he emphasised.
The government spokesman added that he expects there to be developments on Friday as far as resolving ‘collateral damage’ from the sanctions is concerned.
But those in the service sector have warned that they are now unsure as to how to navigate the choppy waters between EU directives, and the US and UK sanctions.
Head of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC) Pieris Markou told CyBC that they have requested advice from the legal services in how the sector should proceed.
He warned that cases may arise where those in the sector may not be violating EU orders, but that if the US decides that any relationship whatsoever with listed individuals or entities is illegal then the sector faces huge challenges.
Another matter of concern which requires clarification is whether ICPAC has the right to rescind the practicing license of those found to be in violation of the US and UK sanctions.
He explained that the first sanctions list – published on April 12 – included one ICPAC member and they are now waiting to see if more will be added.
The US list and Cyprus angle:
The US list includes Kyriakos Attikouris and Gulbakhor Burkhanovna Ismailova (alternate Cypriot nationality), Marilena Georgiou and Demetrios Serghides.
Attikouris is claimed to be linked to Windfel Properties Limited, Savoler Development Limited, Miramonte Investments Limited – names which appear throughout, as Antonis Kyriakou Vakanas is also linked.
The US stated that Miramonte Investments Limited and Savoler Developments Limited are linked to Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov. Sommen Secretarial Services Limited is also included and linked to Windfel, Savoler, and Miramonte.
Ismailova (alternate Cypriot nationality) is also on the list and is linked to The Sister Trust, to which Almenor Holdings Limited is also linked. Klaret Aviation Limited is also linked to The Sister Trust.
Georgiou, linked to Almenor Holdings Limited as is Kostas Giannakou. Gulnoz Zunnurovna Kocharova is also linked.
Serghides as being linked to Usmanov, while Hightrail Ltd is linked to Serghides as is Omnia Services Cyprus Ltd.
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