United States agencies will be sending a team to Cyprus to help investigate the raft of findings in the ‘Cyprus Confidential’ report claiming to show Russian influence on the island in helping oligarchs and billionaires structure their wealth in the run up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it emerged on Friday.
The team, consisting of 24 specialists from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), will assist Cypriot authorities in probing 29 cases.
Simultaneously, the government has initiated a plan to ‘stop and prevent’ financial crimes, including issuing a directive to halt all transactions in the Russian Rouble, according to a report in daily Politis.
Also, investigations are being conducted at law offices and accounting firms in Cyprus to see if there were any violations in registering Russian companies or individuals.
The team from the US, according to the report, was established following President Nikos Christodoulides’ attendance at a Thanksgiving event organised by the US Embassy, where he met with Ambassador Julie Fisher.
Information given in the report said that the team, made up of member of the FBI and FinCen, will provide Cypriot counterparts with know-how and expertise.
Last week, deputy government spokesman Yiannis Antoniou said that the government is focusing on two approaches.
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.
The investigative report 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”.