NICOSIA – Cyprus’ government said it has complied with international laws and not been involved in money laundering after a British lawmaker said its credit rating should be downgraded because of alleged wrongdoing over a high-level Russian case.
The Cypriot justice ministry said that Moneyval, a European rating body, had “established … that the Republic of Cyprus was in full compliance with international measures”.
It said allegations that it sat on evidence in a high-level Russian case and stonewalled French prosecutors were “completely groundless,” according to the EUObserver.
“The investigation [into the Russian case] on the part of Cypriot authorities is open and ongoing” and “cooperation with French authorities … is underway without any problems,” it said after the British Member of Parliament, Ian Austin, said Moneyval should cut Cyprus’ rating from “largely compliant” to “non-compliant”.
He said in a letter that he “grave concerns about the Cypriot government’s complicity in facilitating Russian organized crime and money-laundering,” a reputation that has long dogged Cyprus even though the government in 2013 whacked depositors with more than 100,000 euros ($116,093) with a 47.5 percent confiscation – including many wealthy Russians – as part of a 10-billion euro ($11.61 billion) international bailout deal.
Austin charged that the the government of President Nicos Anastasiades had been “actively involved in the obstruction of an international money-laundering investigation” into a 195-million euro ($226.38 million) fraud against the Russian tax office.
He also said French prosecutors had requested help from Cyprus, but the Cypriot justice ministry “blocked this request for over two years with the result that the documents were supplied only last week”.