US to assist Cyprus in crackdowns against anti-Russia sanctions violations

A group of experts from the United States is in Cyprus to assist law enforcement authorities with investigations into alleged sanctions evasion by Russian oligarchs, Cyprus’ government said Wednesday.

Spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis told reporters that President Nikos Christodoulides has met the experts who will advise police on how best to conduct probes into cases involving financial crimes. They will stay for a few days in the east Mediterranean island nation and return later to continue providing assistance.

Cypriot officials said the six-member team includes experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to discuss the matter publicly.

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Christodoulides told The Associated Press in an interview last month that he personally reached out to a “third country” he didn’t name for help with new and old allegations that Cypriot financial service providers helped Russian oligarchs skirt international sanctions.

Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The president said “many” probes into alleged sanctions evasion are running but wouldn’t give details.

Christodoulides said he wants “absolutely no shadows” cast over the European Union member country because any adverse publicity would hurt efforts to attract “quality” foreign investment.

The experts will assist a team of seven police investigators in sifting through old and new media reports alleging that Cyprus-based lawyers and accountants shifted Russian oligarchs’ money through a murky network of companies and trusts in order to avoid their seizure in line with sanctions related to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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The latest allegations came in several stories published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists last month. They cited leaked documents claiming to show how some Cypriot firms helped Russian oligarchs move their money around to evade sanctions.

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