Cyprus Confidential: how Cyprus helps oligarchs
A research collaboration between the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other media has uncovered dubious dealings by Cypriot financial service providers. More than 270 journalists from 54 countries sifted through vast amounts of data and exposed how Russian oligarchs are using Cyprus as a back door to sidestep sanctions and conceal and increase their assets. How should the country react?
Tough controls necessary and possible
The Cyprus edition of Kathimerini outlines the first key steps to be taken:
“In an economy with a serious balance of payments problem, to the extent that this is one of the two most likely trigger points for the next economic crisis in Cyprus, managing foreign investment and attracting ‘good’ investors is crucial. The creation of a unified and single financial practices authority with supervisory and regulatory powers is the necessary first step towards saving our reputation and our economy. But such an authority will also help to develop a uniform foreign investment policy, which is the next step, with a realistic time horizon of, say, 18 months.”
Will for change is lacking
The authorities will simply sit the problem out, Phileleftheros suspects:
“In other countries, for instance Portugal, the police can search the prime minister’s home as part of a corruption investigation. Can you imagine such a thing happening in Cyprus? A judge issuing a search warrant for the home of such a high-ranking politician, and a police chief ordering the search to be carried out? If that were to happen, there is a real possibility that Cyprus would be shocked by the findings. But we’ve already been through a lot; a compulsory tax [during the banking crisis], golden passports and much more, and we’re still here. ... Nothing can truly shake us.”