Cyprus has imposed sanctions on individuals accused by the United States and Britain of helping Russian oligarchs evade sanctions imposed on Moscow over the war in Ukraine.
According to AFP, financial commissioner of Cyprus, Pavlos Ioannou, announced that the assets of corresponding physical and legal persons have been frozen. The Greek-language daily newspaper in Cyprus, “Phileleftheros,” reported that the island’s largest creditor, the Bank of Cyprus, also “informed 4,000 clients who have Russian passports and are not EU residents that their accounts will be closed.”
The eastern Mediterranean island is home to a large Russian diaspora. Limassol, on the southern coast, which is often referred to as “Moscow on the Mediterranean,” has long been a magnet for Russian speakers. Britain and the United States have imposed sanctions on Cypriot citizens and companies for allegedly helping Russian oligarchs hide their assets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Government spokesman, Constantinos Letymbiotis, said this week that Nicosia is ready to hold all Cypriots accountable whom the United States and Britain accuse of helping oligarchs evade sanctions imposed due to the war. He added that President Nicos Anastasiades contacted the US and UK seeking evidence against the accused individuals so that their cases can be investigated on their home turf.
The head of the Central Bank of Cyprus, Constantinos Herodotou, informed the president this week that Cypriot banks have frozen the accounts of 13 individuals and a number of Cypriot companies. He said that over the past few years, the authorities have closed 43,000 shell companies and 123,000 “suspicious” bank accounts. Herodotou added that 2.2 percent of all bank deposits on the island currently belong to Russians.