U.S., Cyprus boost ties to crack down on money laundering

1 min read

Cyprus and the US embassy in Nicosia are strengthening their collaboration to combat money laundering and financial fraud, as the two countries’ authorities announced on Tuesday.

A joint statement said that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), aided by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), and the US Embassy in Nicosia have initiated direct cooperation with law enforcement authorities in the Republic of Cyprus to bolster their ability to identify and prosecute financial crimes.

In the upcoming days, the FBI and the Cyprus police are set to formalise this cooperation by signing a memorandum of understanding.

This collaborative effort will encompass coordination between the attorney general’s office and the financial intelligence unit (Mokas).

The announcement emphasised the DOJ’s commitment to sharing its expertise with its Cypriot counterparts in 2024, focusing on proactive detection, investigation, and prosecution of financial crimes linked to Cyprus. Additionally, the DOJ will provide substantial prosecutorial assistance, underscoring a significant investment by the US in enhancing Cyprus’s capabilities.

“Closer cooperation of the American and Cypriot justice systems is a welcome development, and both sides look forward to the progress this collaboration will yield.”

Both parties expressed enthusiasm for the prospects of closer cooperation between the American and Cypriot justice systems and anticipate positive outcomes from this collaboration.

Sanctions on Cyprus companies

Meanwhile, as it emerged on Monday, another Cyprus-based company faced sanctions from the US due to its connections with Russia’s financial sector.

Tokentrust Holdings, headquartered in Limassol, was added to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) list of designated entities. The company’s address, listed as Lara Court, Arch. Makariou III 276, seems to have ties to the Tsirides Law Firm in Limassol.

According to OFAC, Tokentrust Holdings was established on June 11, 2020, and holds the majority stake in Atomaiz, a fintech company based in Moscow.

US Ambassador to Cyprus Julie Fisher noted that the said company is one of 13 sanctioned entities included in the recent extension of the US sanction list on entities with links to Russian oligarchs with links to the Kremlin.

“The US appreciates the close cooperation with Cypriot authorities to hold sanctions evaders to account,” posted Fisher.

Last year, President Nikos Christodoulides extended invitations to officials from the FBI and the Justice Department to aid in investigations concerning allegations of Cypriot financial service providers aiding Russian oligarchs in circumventing international sanctions.

Despite Cyprus maintaining that it has adhered to the international sanctions imposed on Russia following its 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the US has focused on several companies, lawyers, and accountants based in Cyprus, alleging their involvement in facilitating the evasion of sanctions.