Asset freeze on 100 companies lifted

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Some 100 Cypriot companies caught up in the UK and US sanctions fallout are back in business after restructuring their executive boards, removing sanctioned people for helping Russian oligarchs.

The Registrar of Companies, Irini Mylona, said her authority had greenlighted 100 applications by companies to have a freeze on their assets lifted after making necessary changes.

Another 300 applications have been reviewed and are pending final authorisation, according to Mylona.

She said instructions were received last Thursday by the Finance Ministry allowing for processing all companies, barring those with sanctioned natural entities included in the US and UK lists.

“Following the directive from the Finance Ministry, the Department informed a special team with a senior document examiner and some officials to process the approximately 600 requests that had been collected,” said Mylona.

The Registrar added that her authority was reviewing the updated sanctions lists issued by the UK and US to confirm whether any Cypriot companies are affected.

Scores of companies, although not directly involved in sanction-busting activities, saw their assets frozen because they had board members connected to sanctions or received administrative services from sanctioned firms.

“To a large extent, the problem that had been created was dealt with.

“If we find that the real beneficiary of the company is not under sanctions, the company is released”, said Mylona.

Meanwhile, reports have banks ready to comply with the decision of the Registrar of Companies and lift the freeze on company assets, as they are satisfied that a competent authority has carried out the due diligence.

Mylona explained that the Department of the Registrar of Companies first studies the request and, if satisfied, issues a certified copy requested by the applicant, which is submitted to their banks.

The certified copy indicates the company’s directors, shareholders, registered office, and secretary at the issue date.

The sanctions lists and the freezing of assets of Cypriot companies were discussed in a meeting between DISY leader and House Speaker Annita Demetriou and British High Commissioner Irfan Siddiq.

Demetriou reaffirmed Cyprus’ commitment to complying with sanctions lists the US and UK issued.

The House Speaker noted that individuals and entities with nothing to do with wrongdoing should not suffer collateral damage.

The matter was also taken up at a meeting between Finance Minister Makis Keravnos and the head of left-wing AKEL Stefanos Stefanou.

Keravnos said, “We are seeing a normalisation process take place”, pointing out that Finance Ministry interventions allowed certain entities to be exempted from the sanctions, allowing them to pay out salaries to their employees.

Stefanou noted the impact of the negative climate arising from the sanctions on Cypriot entities, adding to golden passport scandals during the reign of the previous government.