Cyprus President, Nikos Christodoulides, will preside over a new meeting at 1030 local time on Tuesday, on the issue of sanctions imposed by the US and the UK on individuals and legal entities in Cyprus "in connection with the Russian Federation’s unlawful and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, including facilitators of sanctions evasion."
The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) has learned that the meeting will be attended by the Ministers of Finance and Justice, the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, the head of the Cyprus Intelligence Service, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus, the Cyprus Bar Association, and other government officials.
Cyprus Bar Association President, Christos Clerides, told CNA on Monday that "we will ask to be briefed, because we have not been officially informed about this issue, we have information only from various news reports, and then we will express our positions accordingly." Moreover, he underlined that Cypriot lawyers are committed only by the EU and UN sanctions and not by those imposed by the USA and the UK.
If we have indications for infringements of such sanctions by a member of the Association then we will carry out an investigation on the ground and we will impose administrative sanctions accordingly, he added, noting that the Law Office of the Republic is responsible for imposing criminal sanctions.
"What we have right now is what has been announced and the justification for the measures that have been taken by the British and the Americans. Up until now we have received no information that the law firm in Cyprus that has been included in this special regime has evaded European sanctions," he added.
He noted that the announcements made by the competent authorities in the US and the UK said that the measures were taken in the framework of their effort to target Russian financial facilitators and sanctions evaders around the world, including the facilitation network of Alisher Usmanov, who is subject to sanctions in multiple jurisdictions, and in this framework Vassiliades law firm in Cyprus was sanctioned.
Clerides also noted that the Cyprus Bar Association has had a meeting at the US Embassy in Cyprus as soon as this issue came up. "We asked for a meeting and we asked to be given more information and we were told that information will be given to the Cypriot authorities and we could take it from there. We also asked for some other clarifications and we are waiting for them. They told us they would come back to us," he added.
As regards Vassiliades law firm, Clerides said that "we have talked to Mr. Vassiliades and we have asked him both orally and in writing to prepare a report on all the activities related to the Usmanov case. The deadline for him to give this information is on May 5. I contacted him, even today, and he told me that the report is ready and he will send it to us," he added.
Clerides said that "we will evaluate the report and we will decide accordingly. However if what is alleged is that the British or the US sanctions have been evaded, the Cypriot lawyers are not committed by these sanctions. They are only committed by the EU and the UN sanctions," he reiterated.
Asked if they will ask for the information that will be given to the Cypriot authorities to be handed over to the Bar Association, he noted that they will ask for it because it concerns a member of the Association.
Clerides also expressed concern over statements made by the US Ambassador in Cyprus, that what happened was the result of a joint planning, at the bilateral level, between the Cypriot government and the US administration."
"If this is a joint planning I do not know why the government is asking for information," he added. He said that the Bar Association will ask for clarifications on this issue, if the Cyprus government was involved in this or not.