A snap meeting was held at the presidential palace on Monday, deputy government spokesman Yiannis Antoniou said, to discuss the revelations in last week’s ‘Cyprus Confidential’ report claiming to show Russian influence on the island in helping oligarchs and billionaires structure their wealth in the run up to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The meeting, held under the auspices of President Nikos Christodoulides, was attended by the attorney-general, the assistant attorney-general and the foreign, finance and justice ministers.
Speaking on CyBC, Antoniou said that the goal of the meeting was to examine the government’s next steps considering the allegations in the report. The government is focusing on two approaches, he added.
The first is the need to update the oversight framework and the second is to conclude the investigations of the claims successfully.
“We want to get rid of the charge that Cyprus is a place where money laundering occurs,” he said. Antoniou added that the state is working to convince investors that Cyprus is a serious investment destination, where professional services are offered.
Antoniou indicated that if there are no tangible results and a substantial conclusion to the investigations, so that some people are brought to justice, suspicion will increase about the country, both internally and internationally.
On Saturday, the president said that a team would be arriving from abroad to aid in the investigations of the report.
Christodoulides said that following the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reports on Cyprus, he requested that a team of specialists from a third country, which he did not name, come to Cyprus to help with investigating the claims.
“Last night [Friday] we had a positive reply, and a team is coming to Cyprus to bolster Cyprus authorities, and all those that have already started investigating,” he said.
He added that the government shows zero tolerance to these issues, and that everything that has been published will be investigated.
The investigation dealt extensively with corruption, evading sanctions ahead of the EU’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, how Russian wealth was allegedly shielded, relations with Russia, the role of the banking sector and of independent institutions and the well-documented golden passports scandal.
The investigation claims to reveal “financial enablers in Cyprus — including accounting powerhouse PwC — scrambled to keep a step ahead of looming sanctions”.