Russian President Vladimir Putin said reports that he has bank accounts on Cyprus, which has a notorious reputation for money laundering and housing deposits from rich Russians, are not true.
“No, and never have been. That’s just nonsense, and if that were the case we would have had to face it a long time ago,” Putin said during the fourth and final episode of The Putin Interviews documentary, aired in the United States on June 15.
“I’m not as rich as they claim,” the Russian leader added, commenting on rumors that name him the world’s wealthiest man, the official Russian news agency Tass said.
Cyprus is finding it hard to shake its image as a place for people to hide money from tax officials in their own country and ill-gotten gains, intensifying with reports US authorities were probing US President Donald Trump’s former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort for ties to Russia and Cyprus bank accounts.
The government has tried to change that with regulations so successful that a recent report by Transparency International said that Cyprus disclosed the most complete set of anti-money laundering data among 12 analyzed countries which included the US and UK.
But negative reports began circulating anew when President Nicos Anastasiades and three of his ministers launched a major investment drive in New York, the Cyprus Mail reported.
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow called Cyprus “notorious” and Bank of Cyprus (BoC) “corrupt”, immediately going on to refer to the bank’s former Vice-President and current US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
“Cyprus is a notorious banking hub for criminal Russian money laundering,” stated Maddow. “Cyprus is best known in the financial world as the largest hub for laundering dirty Russian money.”