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Government focuses on sanctions compliance to preserve reputation

Κυβερνητικός Εκπρόσωπος – Ενημέρωση ΜΜΕ
Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis

The government is working towards safeguarding Cyprus’ name abroad where sanctions are concerned, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said on Wednesday after a high-level briefing at the presidential palace.

The meeting aimed to update the president, attorney general, key cabinet members and officials, over the country’s progress on implementing measures to coordinate issues surrounding sanctions, with November expected to be a key month for developments.

Technical support from the British government on creating a sanctions implementation unit is in its final stages and details are expected to be submitted within the month. The scope of the technical assistance has also been broadened to include the creation of a supervisory authority, Letymbiotis specified.

Additionally, a report evaluating how both the police and justice ministry investigate and prosecute financial crime will be ready by the end of the month.

“The meeting is part of the government’s stated intention to show zero tolerance on matters concerning sanctions evasion and law violation, and by extension, to safeguard’s the country’s name as a reliable financial centre, which is considered to be of key importance,” Letymbiotis stressed.

Announcing two appointments, finance ministry official Kikis Paphites is the point of contact to receive all information from local and foreign authorities. All embassies have been informed of his appointment since July, outlining that Paphites is responsible for properly sharing the information that he receives from authorities.

Additionally, professor of finance at the University of Cyprus Dr Andreas Milidonis will be appointed to support the government’s measures on sanctions. The agreement between the state and the university will be signed next week.

Letymbiotis told reporters that the government’s branding efforts both locally and abroad are ready and set to be rolled out by the end of the year. This includes an information campaign set to ‘correct’ Cyprus’ image abroad.

The meeting at the presidential palace was also attended by the ministers of finance and foreign, undersecretary to the president, director of the president’s office, permanent secretary at the finance ministry and the cabinet’s secretary.

Cyprus’ government fell into damage control mode in April this year, after the US and UK sanctioned 23 Cypriot passport holders and over a dozen companies registered in Cyprus. They were deemed to be “financial fixers” helping sanctioned Russian oligarchs Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov to hide their assets in complex financial networks.

Lawyer Christodoulous Vassiliades stood out as the individual who was sanctioned by both countries. Russia issued an arrest warrant against him last month, for which he was accused of being involved in a “large scale” money laundering operation by an organised group in Russia.

Cyprus moved quickly to freeze all accounts of all sanctioned individuals, with the central bank director saying not doing so would have been catastrophic for the economy. Earlier this month, four people and two companies linked to Cyprus were included in new US sanction list.

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