The International Trade Council (ITC) commends the government of Cyprus for its firm commitment to upholding European Union (EU) sanctions on Russia. In light of recent blacklisting of Cypriot nationals by the US and UK for alleged involvement in sanctions-busting activities, the government of Cyprus has vowed to take decisive action against any deviation from EU sanctions on Russia.
Cyprus has a thriving services industry, which has been built on hosting an extensive network of businesses with links to Russia. While this has been beneficial to Cyprus' economy, it has also made the country vulnerable to accusations of being lax on regulation. Cyprus has therefore asked for additional information from both the UK and the US to assess and investigate further any violations of the EU sanctions.
"The credibility of our country must be safeguarded, and no deviation from EU sanctions will be tolerated," said Konstantinos Letymbiotis, Government Spokesman.
The ITC applauds Cyprus' efforts to maintain the integrity of EU sanctions on Russia. It is imperative that Cyprus, as a member of the EU, upholds these sanctions, as they are essential to promote peace, security, and stability in the region.
Since the financial crisis in 2013, Cyprus has significantly reduced its exposure to Russia, triggering a massive overhaul of its banking sector. The Bank of Cyprus, the island's largest bank, has notified approximately 4,000 clients with Russian passports, who are not EU residents, that their accounts will be closed. The bank has taken this action following the suspension of Russia's membership by the Financial Action Task Force and the EU's designation of Russia as a non-cooperative tax jurisdiction.
According to the Bank of Cyprus, deposits held by the 4,000 clients accounted for less than 0.5 percent of total deposits. The ITC supports this decision as it is consistent with the bank's obligation to comply with international laws and regulations.
The ITC calls on all businesses in Cyprus to comply with EU sanctions on Russia and to continue working with the government to maintain the country's reputation as a responsible and reliable business hub in the region.