Finance Minister vexed at Cyprus’ shady reputation

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Finance Minister Makis Keravnos said it is disturbing that ‘Cyprus Confidential’ investigations continue to present the country as a problematic financial destination.

He told journalists after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting that since it took office in March 2023, the government has begun an intense process to introduce additional safeguards and build institutions to no longer allow the name of Cyprus to be tarnished.

Regarding whether the legal framework for monitoring service providers for money laundering issues will be strengthened, Keravnos said there is close cooperation with the British government, which acts as an advisor.

He said experts have come to Cyprus, and large sums allocated by the UK to help Cyprus, £800,000 in the first stage, while a similar fund is expected to follow.

“The experts are working with officials of the ministry and are preparing the legal basis and structures and all the measures that must be taken, and the first outcome will be at the end of November.”

Keravnos argued the ‘Cyprus Confidential’ probe ended in April 2022 when Russian sanctions were not in place.

Asked if there is a criminal investigation against PwC for sanctions violations, Keravnos said that “a certain investigation is being conducted following instructions from the Ministry of Finance” on some secondary issues.

He said all relevant issues will be investigated, and instructions and timetables have already been given.

“I think that what has been presented was all known, and precisely for this reason, this government made it a priority to create institutions and safeguards to stop these phenomena.”

Asked if his counterparts abroad have reacted to this development, he said this was not the case, adding, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

According to an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 67 media partners, the island “plays an even bigger role than was commonly known in moving dirty money for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other brutal dictators.”

Collected documents “offer a penetrating look inside the rogue financial system that has helped empower some of the West’s most determined foes,” said the probe, titled Cyprus Confidential.