Cyprus freezes accounts of those helping Russia dodge sanctions

Cyprus freezes accounts of those helping Russia dodge sanctions

Cyprus has cracked down on individuals and entities who, according to the U.S. and Britain, have been helping Russian oligarchs circumvent sanctions introduced over Russia’s war against Ukraine.

That’s according to Finance Commissioner Pavlos Ioannou, Ukrinform reports, referring to Barron's.

Ioannou said the relevant assets had been frozen.

Greek Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros reported that the island's biggest lender, Bank of Cyprus, also "informed 4,000 customers who have a Russian passport and are non-residents of EU countries that their accounts will be closed."

Read also: Zelensky urges closing loopholes Russia uses to circumvent sanctions

A formidable share of the Russian diaspora lives in Cyprus.

Britain and the U.S. have imposed sanctions on 13 Cypriot nationals and companies they say helped Russian oligarchs evade sanctions and hide their financial assets after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis said this week that Nicosia had pledged to prosecute all Cypriots accused by the U.S. and Britain of allowing oligarchs to circumvent sanctions imposed over the war.

Read also: Cyprus to offer Ukraine technical assistance in demining

This week, the head of the Central Bank of Cyprus, Constantinos Herodotou, told the country's president, Nikos Christodoulides, that the Cypriot banks had frozen the accounts of those named.

According to him, in recent years, the authorities have closed 43,000 shell companies and 123,000 "suspicious" bank accounts. Only 2.2 percent of all bank deposits on the island currently belong to Russians, he said.

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