NICOSIA - Minister of Finance Vassos Shiarly said Tuesday that the terms of reference to be agreed with a private firm that will evaluate the Cypriot legal framework on combating money laundering will take into account the country’s concerns.
In statements to CNA regarding the Eurogroup decision to request an evaluation by a private firm of Cyprus` legal framework against money laundering and its effective implementation, Shiarly said that Cyrus` partners insisted on a private firm because it would carry out the evaluation quickly enough so that the Eurogroup and Cyprus would agree on a financial assistance package within March.
After its request for financial assistance by the European Stability Mechanism, Cyprus came under criticism that it is a tax heaven and that the financial assistance would be used to rescue money deposited "by Russian oligarchs".
"Yesterday`s discussion on Cyprus focused on a request by some euro area member-states on the actions taken by the Cypriot side to combat money-laundering," Shiarly said.
The Finance Minister said that during the discussion he argued against commissioning a private firm that would evaluate the Cypriot legal framework and reiterated that Cyprus would welcome an evaluation by international organizations such the Council of Europe`s Moneyval, the IMF and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
The Minster outlined three reasons against an evaluation by a private firm.
According to Shiarly, a private firm could create false perceptions in depositors who as a result would withdraw their deposits creating threats to the stability of the Cypriot financial system.
He also submitted an opinion by Cyprus` Attorney-General that an evaluation by a private firm would be in breach of Cypriot legislation as well European laws such as the European Convention of Human Rights.
"We proposed that Moneyval, FATF or the IMF or even all of them together, in cooperation with the Central Bank of Cyprus under the proper terms of reference, could carry out this evaluation," he said.
He noted however that Cyprus` euro area partners "insisted on their opinion and concluded that the evaluation will be carried out by a private firm under the terms of reference to be agreed by the Cypriot authorities and the Troika after Cyprus` legal concerns are met."
Noting that it is important that Cyprus` partners intend to conclude a financial assistance package for Cyprus within March, Shiarly added that they did not want to waste any time.
"This is the reason why they insisted on a private assessment and requested that the terms of reference be agreed in one week or the soonest possible because they aim at granting financial assistance before the end of March," he said, adding that Cyprus partners insisted on a private firm that would move fast.
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