Money Laundering in Cyprus
The fight against crime demands that criminals are prevented from legitimizing the proceeds of their crime through the process of “money laundering or terrorist financing”. It is a process which can involve many persons outside the more obvious targets which are the banks and other financial institutions. Professionals such as accountants and lawyers are at risk because their services could be of value to the successful money launderer or terrorist financier. But the launderer or terrorist financier often seeks to involve many other often unwitting accomplices, such as:
- stockbrokers and securities houses;
- insurance companies and insurance brokers;
- financial intermediaries;
- surveyors and estate agents;
- persons involved in gaming activities;
- company formation agents;
- dealers in precious metals and bullions;
- antique dealers, car dealers and others selling high value
- commodities and luxury goods;
In May 1996 domestic legislation was enacted, namely The Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering Activities Law (61(I)/96) which was adopted in line with various Conventions.
The above Law was amended in 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2004 to include further international measures or to improve existing measures taken. In 2007 the Law was replaced by the Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering Activities Law 2007(Law 188(I)/2007, amending and consolidating the previous Laws, which was further amended in 2010 by Law 58(I)/2010 and further in 2012 by Law 80(I)/2012 implements the provisions of the Third Money Laundering Directive (2005/60/EC) and regulates the activities and services of a number of professionals who by virtue of their business activities are in a privileged position in assisting in Money Laundering.
Should a person or entity fail to comply with the specific requirements of the Law, then such person or entity is subject to an administrative fine of up to €200.000 and in the case that the offence continues, to an administrative fine of up to €1.000 for each day that non-compliance continues.
Hereafter, the main purpose of the Law is to define and criminalise the laundering of the proceeds generated from all serious criminal offences, to prevent and suppress money laundering and also provide for the tracing, freezing and confiscation of assets generated by money laundering activities.
It is vital nowadays, when money laundering is a scourge harming the financial sector of various countries, to abide by the appropriate procedures provided by the Law which aim to combat this phenomenon. All professionals should balance their duty towards their clients and their duty under the law and towards the sustainment of global economy and refuse to provide their services to clients who are not sufficiently transparent as to their person or their business. All professionals should refuse to deal with such clients and/or report them, where this is appropriate, thus benefitting the society as a whole rather than a few individuals/entities, who engage in illicit or suspicious operations.
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