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16 June, 2024
 
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Cyprus Confidential: A new stain on Cyprus' image

The shocking PwC connection in Cyprus exposed

Panayiotis Rougalas

Panayiotis Rougalas

Another episode is unfolding that stains Cyprus' name on a global scale. This time, it's not about the Naturalization Program or "golden passports" but centers on sanctions imposed on Russian oligarchs since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

The data in the long-awaited "Cyprus Confidential" investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Paper Trail Media, and 67 partner media outlets is largely familiar, but its significance should not be underestimated.

While there are no major revelations akin to past instances like the Cyprus Papers or the Al Jazeera documentary, 'smoke and mirrors' surround Cyprus once again. The "Cyprus Confidential" investigation reveals numerous connections to PwC Cyprus.

Specifically, the Consortium's journalists find that the professional services giant collaborated with at least 12 of the 25 Russians already subject to sanctions by Western governments or Ukraine.

As Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, PwC Cyprus allegedly assisted Russian oligarchs in managing their wealth and circumventing Western-imposed sanctions.

Notably, PwC Cyprus helped transfer a $1.4 billion investment for Alexey Mordashov, one of Russia's richest industrialists, to evade sanctions. Another $100 million was allegedly transferred for two Russian oligarchs involved in supporting Putin's war in Ukraine.

In the aftermath, questions arise about the timing of sanctions and whether PwC Cyprus may have violated EU sanctions. The investigation suggests that Alexey Mordashov might have been under sanctions on February 28, 2022, although awareness remains unclear.

Surprisingly, the new revelations from the ICIJ journalists' consortium do not implicate new political figures. However, former president Nicos Anastasiades is once again in the spotlight for allegedly serving Russian interests.

The report points to his actions in 2013, leaving his office and securing agreements in Moscow, though specific evidence of wrongdoing is not presented.

In response to these claims, PwC Cyprus and Alexey Mordashov deny awareness of any investigation or intent to break rules.

The Cyprus government emphasizes efforts made since 2013 to stabilize the banking sector and implement stringent anti-money laundering measures.

The leaked Cypriot confidential files, totaling 3.6 million, come from various financial service providers.

They shed light on Cyprus' role in the Putin regime's shadow financial system, particularly through the Passport Program that granted EU citizenship to Russian nationals.

As the revelations unfold, Cyprus faces a critical juncture in safeguarding its reputation. Can it overcome the shadows of financial controversies and emerge with a cleansed image, or will these latest revelations perpetuate a lasting stain on the island nation's name?

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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Cyprus  |  economy  |  Russia  |  pwc  |  EU

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