ATHENS, April 19 – Cyprus is creating a national group to enforce sanctions, and banking institutions have begun freezing the accounts of individuals and legal entities from Russia included in the sanctions lists; So far, only 2.2% of all deposits in Cyprus have Russian citizens as their ultimate beneficiaries, said government spokesman Konstantinos Lytempotis.
The Press and Information Office of the Government of Cyprus distributed its statement following a meeting on US and British sanctions against individuals and entities from Cyprus, chaired by Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides on Wednesday.
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This is the second meeting in recent days on the subject of anti-Russian sanctions. Last week, two Greek Cypriots working in the business of serving foreign investors were included in the UK sanctions list. The US Treasury Department has also announced sanctions against a number of Cypriot entities and individuals indirectly linked to supporting individuals or companies allegedly assisting the Kremlin. Among them are nine Greek Cypriots and 18 Cypriot companies. Six people of Russian origin who obtained Cypriot passports were subject to the sanctions.
On April 13, Christodoulides held an extraordinary meeting regarding the inclusion of Cypriot individuals and legal entities in the US and UK sanctions lists, and instructed a full investigation of all circumstances.
The day before, the President told reporters that Cyprus fully complies with all sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union against Russia, and there should be no doubt on this issue. Christodoulides said he will continue to consult with the Legal Department and with the Treasury Department on how to proceed.
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On Wednesday, the Cypriot government press service said that Christodoulides will hold a second meeting on the subject of sanctions at the presidential palace, with the participation of the assistant attorney general, the ministers of finance, justice and foreign affairs, and the governor of the Republic of Cyprus. central bank.
“The President of the Republic asked for a roadmap to be prepared showing effective measures to be taken. He reiterated a clear signal that confidence must be maintained in our country, and that any exceptions to EU sanctions are unacceptable. We were also informed with satisfaction of the situation. The UK committee appreciates the cooperation,” Lytembutis said. The Republic of Cyprus highly appreciates the relevant position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the previous days.”
According to him, all public services and relevant authorities, working in a coordinated manner, are reaching out at the technocratic and political levels with their counterparts in the UK and the US to find the fastest and most efficient channels for providing data so that they can be transferred to the Legal Service for assessment.
The Central Bank Governor said that banking institutions have begun to freeze the bank accounts of individuals and entities on the lists. He also said that the European Central Bank believes that Cyprus has made progress in recent years and is pleased to see the steps taken by the Republic of Cyprus. In particular, in recent years, 43,000 shell companies and 123,000 bank accounts have been closed in Cyprus, and today only 2.2% of the total number of deposits have Russian citizens who are the ultimate beneficiaries,” the government spokesman said.
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Cyprus banks in 2018 began closing accounts of Russians. The Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) in the summer of 2019, in response to a request by the News Agency, referred to the Directive entitled “Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism”, published in 2018, and to the corresponding EU Directive, published on June 19, 2018 in the Official Gazette for the European Union. The bank said, “CBC fully cooperates locally and internationally with other regulatory authorities in accordance with the provisions of relevant legislation and bilateral agreements in carrying out its supervisory activities.”
According to CBC statistics, deposits in Cypriot banks decreased from 70.157 billion euros in December 2012 to 48.438 billion in May 2019. Deposits of non-eurozone residents fell during this period from 21.518 billion euros to 6.852 billion. Over the past year, deposits have decreased monthly by 10-18%. The head of the Central Bank of Cyprus stated that the share of Russian deposits in financial institutions in Cyprus decreased from 41% in 2014 to 6% in November 2018, 230 thousand bank accounts were closed, and Russian clients accounted for only 2% of all depositors. in Cypriot banks.
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