Nicosia braces for damning report

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Authorities are prepping for the release of yet another damning report on how Cyprus-based financial fixers aided powerful Russians in shielding their wealth from international sanctions.

The report, ‘Cyprus Confidential, ‘ results from an extensive eight-month investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which collaborated with 68 media organisations worldwide.

ICIJ announced that they will be releasing the report at 6 pm Tuesday.

This collaborative effort involved 270 journalists and signalled a significant revelation regarding “financial secrets linked to the small Mediterranean island”.

According to ICIJ sources, the investigation will bring substantial data exposing Cyprus’ role in facilitating the movement of Russian wealth, with potential coverage extending to the contentious issue of ‘Golden Passports.’

According to local media, the government is ready to respond to the claims made in the documentary.

“The content of the documentary remains unknown to the government,” Deputy Minister to President Nikos Christodoulides Irene Piki told Alpha TV on Monday.

The consortium of journalists had informed the Presidency of the Republic of their intentions last week.

“A general statement has been requested from the Presidency on what measures we are taking to deal with such incidents.

“A comprehensive response has been prepared, where we say what we have been doing since June when the government announced several measures to deal with sanction busters,” said Piki.

Piki mentioned “isolated cases that harm the country’s reputation” and said the government is adamant about its “zero tolerance” policy.

She also clarified that the competent bodies will investigate anything arising from the publications.

The government is already contacting British experts to establish a single supervisory authority for monitoring sanctions.

“A single sanctions unit will be created under the Ministry of Finance, and they will suggest additional measures”.

Meanwhile, the Cyprus Bar Association and the Association of Chartered Accountants have publicly stated the need to define a single supervisory authority, identifying with the government’s “zero tolerance” motto.

The Cyprus Confidential documentary will not be the first time ICIJ has revealed corruption.

Earlier in 2021, the ICIJ had released the Pandora Papers linking dozens of world and public leaders to secret financial dealings, among them then President Nicos Anastasiades.

The report focused on false information allegedly used to conceal the true identity of beneficial owners, raising alarm bells of financial regulators in the Caribbean where the companies were registered.

According to the investigation, a law firm founded by the then-president and bearing his name, Nicos Chr. Anastasiades and Partners “appears in the Pandora Papers as a key offshore go-between for wealthy Russians.”

The report claimed the law firm had been involved in hiding assets of a controversial Russian billionaire.

Anastasiades denied any knowledge of his former law firm’s alleged involvement in the case.