ATHENS, December 17 (RIA Novosti) – Cyprus confirmed on Monday that it had launched a probe into the possible laundering of funds stolen in Russia.
The investigative authorities in Cyprus are reviewing all aspects of this issue, the Cyprus Unit for Combating Money Laundering (Mokas) said in response to RIA Novosti’s inquiry, adding they could not provide any more details at present.
The EUobserver website reported that Cyprus had opened an investigation into evidence that stolen Russian tax money linked to the murder of Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky had been laundered through its banks.
EUobserver said it had received an email from Mokas on Thursday saying: "At this point ... in Cyprus there is an ongoing investigation into this matter... Mokas is conducting the investigation, under the attorney general’s office."
Magnitsky, 37, an anti-corruption lawyer who worked with the UK-based Hermitage Capital investment fund, was arrested on tax evasion charges in November 2008, days after accusing police investigators of involvement in a $230 million tax refund fraud, and died after almost a year in a pre-trial detention center in Moscow.
According to the EUobserver, lawyers for Magnitsky’s former employer, Hermitage Capital, submitted evidence to Cyprus' attorney general in July showing that $31 million of the tax money was moved out of Russia using five Cypriot banks: Alpha Bank, Cyprus Popular Bank, FBME Bank, Privatbank International and Komercbanka.