NICOSIA --- President of the House of Representatives Yiannakis Omirou has sent a letter to his EU counterparts and the President of the European Parliament, in which he rejects as unfounded allegations that there is money laundering in Cyprus.
Stressing that Cyprus’ actions against money laundering were assessed by the International Monetary Fund, Moneyval, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development as measures of high standards, Omirou notes that Cyprus fully complies with international conventions and European legislation as regards anti- money laundering measures.
Omirou states in his letter that Cyprus’ banking sector is supervised by the Central Bank of Cyprus and as a result by the European Central Bank. It is also subject to very strict procedures for the control of funds transferred and for the accounts opened, he further notes.
The House Speaker points out the unanimous adoption by the House of Representatives of all legislation bills that are related to money laundering and have been discussed with the Troika (EC, ECB, IMF).
In his letter, Omirou recalls that the severe losses of the Cyprus banking system were caused due to the European Council decision on restructuring the Greek debt and notes that the decision on the viability of the Cyprus debt is still pending.
As regards Cyprus’ tax status, he recalls that it was approved by the competent European institutions, prior to Cyprus’ EU accession in 204.
Rejecting allegations that Cyprus’ low tax regime, like that of Ireland and Luxembourg, makes the country “tax haven”, Omirou explains that many international companies prefer Cyprus following the conclusion of bilateral agreements for the avoidance of double taxation.
Omirou also highlights that the effective tax rate in Cyprus, grows well beyond the nominal, with the addition of other charges and fees.
In his letter, Omirou refers to the business ties between Cyprus and the Russian Federation, rejecting allegations that Russian oligarchs have bank deposits in Cyprus, clarifying that the money belongs to Russian companies, operating through Cyprus.
The House Speaker further notes that Cyprus is a transit hub for investment in the European territory from Russian groups, who introduced their companies on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.
Otherwise, he states, these investments would go to third countries, non-EU Member States.
Omirou rejects allegations that Russian business dominate in Cyprus, noting that from the 80 companies in the maritime sector, based in Limassol, 36 are German and only three are Russian companies. He also notes that there are Canadian investments in the energy sector in Russia, through Cyprus, due to the agreement for the avoidance of double taxation between the two states, as well as the investment activities of Israel property, via Cyprus, in countries such as Russia and the Ukraine.
In his letter, the House Speaker furthermore notes that Cyprus is not the only investor in Russia, explaining that Cyprus seems to be the leader in investments in Russia due to the fact that Russian capital flowing to Cyprus concern dividends while funds transferred from Cyprus, concern re-investments in the Russian market.
Cyprus, Omirou adds, counts on the good faith and encouragement from its European partners in its efforts to restructure its economy, to achieve debt sustainability and development.
These efforts, he warns, include painful sacrifices on behalf of the Cypriot people, which, for four decades now, lives under the heavy consequences of the Turkish military occupation of 37% of Cyprus since 1974.
The House Speaker notes that despite the difficulties, Cyprus has managed through hard work, to become a successful international business center.
He also highlights that Cyprus has always been and remains a democratic state, where the rule of law prevails.
The House Speaker indicates that any accusations that there is money laundering in Cyprus must be founded and should be reported to the Cypriot Government, which has been and remains committed to examining such cases in the most decisive manner.
In his letter, Omirou states that in times of crisis, which include systemic risks, the founding principles of the EU acquire their full significance, especially when unfounded allegations threaten the credibility and integrity of the entire European project.
Concluding, he calls upon his EU counterparts and the President of the European Parliament to examine this issue in a spirit of justice and solidarity, and expresses the readiness of the House of Representatives to provide any explanations deemed necessary.