Thursday, October 29, 2020

Cyprus: Anastasiades law firm calls on money laundering authority to investigate OCCRP claims

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The anti-money laundering authority, Mokas, was on Tuesday asked to investigate the claims of the OCCRP against the Nicos Chr. Anastasiades law firm, by the firm itself.

The report by the Organised Crime and Corruption Project (OCCRP), released on August 14, implied a link between the president and his law firm with the Troika Laundromat, a network of shell companies that operated from 2006 to 2013 moving at least $4.6 billion and enabling its users to hide assets, evade taxes or launder money, mainly for the benefit of senior leaders of politics and business in Russia.

Anastasiades remained co-owner of the law firm he established in the 1970s until February 2013. His two daughters are currently shareholders.

Citing the contents from leaked documents of the now-defunct Lithuanian Ukio Bankas, OCCRP said that during the period when Anastasiades was a partner at the firm, it facilitated transactions carried out by four companies who were major players in the Troika Laundromat.

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On Tuesday the office CEO Stathis Lemis said Mokas had contacted the firm for further clarification on the claims of the non-governmental organisation. Lemis said: “We call on them [Mokas] to conduct an investigation immediately.”

OCCRP said that “both Mr Anastasiades and the law firm, including every single one of its shareholders, were offered an opportunity to comment on the findings of the investigation several weeks ahead of publication. None of them opted to do so.”

Since its publication, the report incited a war of words between the government and main opposition party Akel that continued to build up until Monday.

Akel has made repeated calls on Anastasiades to address the allegations to remove the blemish caused more broadly to Cyprus’ reputation as a financial services centre.

Related: Bank Records Link President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades to ‘Troika Laundromat’
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Responding, the government dubbed the report false in a series of statements, adding that similar allegations of financial malfeasance had been previously investigated by authorities in various countries, including the United States, without any incriminating findings.

Firing back at Akel, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou recalled that in any case it was the Akel government which had given prominent Russian businessman Alexander Abramov his Cypriot citizenship in 2010.

Speaking on a local radio station on Monday, Akel cadre Neoklis Sylikiotis – under whose watch as interior minister Cyprus green-lit Abramov’s citizenship – said the government was deflecting attention away from itself and the president by seeking to turn the matter into one of suspect citizenships.

The president’s former law firm has meanwhile threatened to sue the OCCRP for libel. In a statement, Lemis also said the outfit was ‘fully reserving its rights’ against Cypriot media for reproducing the OCCRP falsities.

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