Cyprus Problem | Money Laundering Accusations Continue

Seems the south are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Allegations of the Republic of Cyprus being a centre for money laundering just will not go away. It seems like its EU partners are just not happy with the way the Banks are monitored in south Cyprus.

It may well be that such an intense period of being under the microscope will be the catalyst that causes the ROC to look at the way their Banks are run too. Can they afford not to comply with the very strict money laundering rules applied by the European Union? Whichever way you look at it, all is not well for ROC in Euroland, despite holding the rotating Presidency.

Fresh onslaught from German media

WHILE Cyprus has repeatedly denied money laundering charges, the German media has continued to fire broadsides at the island, branding Cyprus a safe haven for dubious money.

In a lengthy report published on Monday, Der Spiegel describes Cyprus a haven for Russian oligarchs who have set up shop on the island.

“Several dozen oligarchs and financial sharks have set up offshore companies in Cyprus, where they can protect their assets, at very favourable tax rates, from the Kremlin-controlled Russian justice system,” the media outlet said.

Billionaire Roman Abramovich, known internationally as the owner of some of the world’s largest private yachts and London’s Chelsea Football Club, controls his Evraz holding company through a Cyprus-based company, Lanebrook while financial magnate and former presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns mining companies in Russia, registered Intergeo Management Ltd. in Cyprus in 2008, Der Spiegel said.

It went on to list all the Russian magnates with interests in Cyprus.

Vladimir Lisin, worth an estimated $15.9 billion, controls more than two-thirds of his most important company, a steel mill in Novolipetsk, through the Cypriot company Fletcher Holding Ltd.

Owners of other companies registered in Cyprus include Lisin’s competitor Alexei Mordashov (worth $15.3 billion), nickel tycoon Vladimir Potanin ($14.5 billion) and oil baron Vagit Alekperov ($13.5 billion).

There is also Suleyman Kerimov ($6.5 billion), and Internet czar and friend of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev Alisher Usmanov, who topped the list of Russia’s richest men last year at $18.1 billion.

It also mentions fertiliser magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev, who is the biggest single shareholder in the Bank of Cyprus, the island’s biggest.

Several of the same Russian oligarchs have bought homes in upscale sections of London, which has been dubbed “Moscow on Thames”.

According to Spiegel the German intelligence service, the BND concluded that Cyprus was indeed a “gateway for money laundering activities in the EU.”

The Germans say it is “relatively easy” to open accounts anonymously in Cyprus, and that auditing requirements are inadequate.

According to the BND report, attorneys and trustees in Cyprus have specialised in financial services, some of which “are used to conceal money earned illegally,” Spiegel said.” [Cyprus Mail]

Pandora S Box

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