Danske Bank Scandal Shows Cyprus Not Only Money Haven

Blamed for years as a major tax haven and place for criminals to hide and launder money, a $230 billion dirty money scandal at Danske Bank – and other major European Union banks – showed the problem is more widespread.

That was the assessment of Marios Scandalis, President of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC,) who told INSIDER that the Danish bank’s disrepute over the affair is the best argument against critics of Cyprus.

The island has been trying to shake its image, even as the government is being criticized for the sale of Golden Visas to rich foreign investors for not properly vetting them to weed out criminals and money launderers.

Indeed, Cyprus has been actively portraying itself as among the most credible states in terms of safety measures aiming to combat suspicious money laundering, although a report by Moody’s said 9% of suspicious payments, that is about €18 billion, came from shell companies registered in Cyprus tied to the growing Danske Bank scandal.

Scandalis said that Cyprus and its financial sector operate  one of the most credible supervision systems in fighting money laundering as the phenomenon seems unstoppable worldwide.

“It is about time that all those who so easily accuse and slam Cyprus to do their own self-criticism and also realise that there is a post-2015 era. Cyprus got to understand, in the most vicious and unjust way back in 2013, that there is no other path than that of transparency and integrity as far as the economy goes,” he added.

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  1. “Just to give the most prominent examples, the description of Cyprus by the New York Times, when writing about the Russian links of the former vice-chairman of Bank of Cyprus, Wilbur Ross, was that it is “long regarded as a favorite financial haven of wealthy Russians”.

    Similarly, the US-based The Atlantic said Cyprus “was a favoured destination as a tax haven”, when writing about the financial activities of the former campaign manager of the US president, Donald Trump, adding that Manafort had “laundered money through shell companies and foreign bank accounts in Cyprus”.

    Bloomberg said that “Passports for sale lure rich Russians” and said Cyprus was a place where Russians are “hiring sham employees for the investment vehicles they set up on the island”.

    Only as recently as October, the Financial Times called Cyprus “a popular tax haven favoured by Russian oligarchs and businesses”.

    It is not just the English-language press. Investigations into suspected Russian interference in the presidential election of France and into a former Austrian finance minister on corruption charges also found a financial trail through Cyprus.”

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