Cypriot link to Russia bank under UK sanctions

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Despite authorities and stakeholders in the services sector being relieved that no Cypriot company or individual was included in the latest sanctions list issued by the UK, a Cyprus-Russia link was present.

As reported by Phileleftheros daily, three companies with ties to the Mediterranean island are included in the updated UK sanctions lists.

They are Russian online lender Tinkoff Bank, Sovfracht and Far Eastern Shipping Company (FESCO).

The founder of Tinkoff Bank, which was put under sanctions by the British, is Oleg Tinkov, who received a Cypriot passport in 2018 through the Citizenship for Investment scheme.

The report attached to the UK sanctions lists said that Tinkoff Bank may have benefited from the support of the Russian government, operating in a sector of strategic importance for the government of Russia, which is the Russian financial sector services”.

It said that 55-year-old Oleg Tinkov was mentioned by name in a Cyprus inquiry by former Supreme Court judge Myron Nikolatos into cases of dodgy investors obtaining golden passports.

The inquiry noted that the US was allegedly requesting his extradition from Britain, allegedly for tax evasion.

The report submitted to the government by Nikolatos suggested that Tinkov should be monitored.

However, in October 2021, Tinkov settled his debt to the American authorities by paying $506.8 mln.

According to the Registrar of Companies, eight business entities bear the name “FESCO” in their title.

Cyprus-based FESCO GLOBAL LOGISTICS LIMITED has Leonid G. Zvyagintsev registered as its CEO, who is also the vice president of FAR EASTERN SHIPPING COMPANY (FESCO) which was included in the UK sanctions issued last week.

According to the rationale recorded for the inclusion of the company in the sanctions, is that FESCO “is an entity that operates in an area of strategic importance to the government of Russia.

“It is involved in the provision of financial services or has funds, financial resources, technological goods, which could contribute to the destabilisation of Ukraine or undermine or threaten its territorial integrity.”

SOVFRACHT HOLDING LIMITED is based in Cyprus and was included in the UK sanctions lists on the same grounds as FESCO.

The director of the Cypriot company is Igor Kotov, also the chair of Sovfracht International Holding.

The USA had also updated its sanctions list on pro-Kremlin Russian oligarchs and facilitators on Friday, adding three Cyprus-based companies to the 300 entities hit with restrictions.

No additional Cypriot individuals were added to the updated US list.

Added to the list were companies based in Nicosia and Limassol: Robarin Ltd, Aquila Capital Group, and Huriya Private Cyprus Ltd.