Cyprus EU’s Worst Regulator of Market Abuses


(Photo by Eurokinissi/ Yiannis Panagopoulos)

NICOSIA - Already under fire for selling residency permits and European Union passports without vetting applicants properly for criminal activity and money laundering, Cyprus has now been rated worst in a peer view in failing to stop market abuses.

That assessment came from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) which said the country and Romania were the only ones in the EU non-compliant with market abuse rules on two of six assessments, the news agency Reuters reported.

ESMA looked at whether supervisors were making sure that certain financial firms meet requirements and found that Greece, along with Austria, Bulgaria, Ireland, Latvia and Luxembourg were "partially-compliant" among EU member countries, while Cyprus and Romania were "non-compliant".

The agency also looked at how national regulators responded to poor-quality or suspected non-reporting of suspicious trades and associated enforcement actions, finding Cyprus non-compliant there as well.

"We as European regulators need to make further progress in ensuring firms' compliance and in challenging poor-quality reporting," ESMA Chair Steven Maijoor said in a statement.

Cyprus' regulator CySEC said in the ESMA report that it disagrees with some of the findings and assessments in the review, which it said did not pay sufficient consideration to the specific characteristics of the Cyprus market without explaining what that meant.

The review saw a sharp rise in the number of suspicious transactions reported, mainly by investment firms in relation to stock trades, due to broader reporting criteria brought in by the new rules in 2016 for compliance.