US, UK seek assistance in sanction-busting cases

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Authorities are busy investigating cases of Cypriot firms facilitating asset transfers for sanctioned Russian oligarchs, with the UK and US requesting judicial assistance.

Following the damning ‘Cyprus Confidential’ leaks, some eight requests for judicial assistance were submitted by the US and the UK to the competent police office for the execution of European Investigation and Judicial Assistance Orders.

In a note to Parliament, the Justice Ministry said police had examined 28 complaints about sanction busting received between May and November 2023.

The complaints came from the Ministry of Finance, the Foreign Ministry, the anti-money laundering unit MOKAS, the Association of Cyprus Auditors, the Cyprus Bar Association, the Legal Service, and the Central Bank.

Some have been filed with courts following the instructions of the states’ Legal Services.

According to the Justice Ministry, between January and September, the police investigated 349 cases involving crimes of a financial nature.

Police carry out valuable work in matters of violation of sanctions originating from the European Union or the United Nations, and possibly criminal prosecutions may be brought.

For this reason, a special task force was set up to investigate such matters under the Financial Crimes Prosecution Sub-Directorate of the Police Headquarters.

Regarding the 349 cases involving financial crimes, according to the data from the Ministry of Justice, 286 cases were solved.

Most of the cases investigated involve forgery, with the police solving 128 of the 148 cases reported to them.

There are 68 cases related to false representations and fraud, of which 51 were solved.

Earlier this month, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released its latest investigation, dubbed ‘Cyprus Confidential’, shedding light on Russia’s “long-standing hegemony” over Cyprus’ deeply intertwined political and financial worlds.

It is another damning report following the 2020 Al Jazeera sting revealing how officials aided dodgy foreign investors in obtaining a Cyprus passport and the Pandora Papers.

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

Cyprus Confidential is another damning report following the 2020 Al Jazeera sting revealing how officials aided dodgy foreign investors in obtaining a Cyprus passport and the Pandora Papers.