Russian billionaires are involved in the laundering of large sums of money in Cyprus and Malta, said the head of the US State Department.
Mike Pompeo, the press service of the department. He stressed that many of these Russian citizens have close ties with the Kremlin. Illegal financial transactions of Russians have exacerbated problems with corruption in the domestic markets of Cyprus and Malta.
“Rich Russians, many with ties to the Kremlin, have laundered billions of dollars through the Republic of Cyprus and Malta, damaging their domestic markets and spreading corruption,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo’s statement was a response to a comment made by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in the framework of the “Mediterranean dialogue”. The Russian Foreign Minister accused the United States of playing political games in the Mediterranean and delaying the appointment of a new special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya.
In October, the European Commission launched a penalty procedure against Cyprus and Malta in connection with the issuance of “golden passports”. Brussels believes that granting citizenship in exchange for investment contradicts the principle of loyal cooperation enshrined in the EU Treaty.
Malta has been issuing investment passports to foreigners since 2013.
In January, it became known that in 2018, the “golden passports” of the island state were received by the full namesakes of the former Forbes list participant and shareholder of Sistema AFK Alexander Gorbatovsky, the main owner of Shokoladnitsa Alexander Kolobov, the former head of Transnefteprodukt Mikhail Mezhentsev, the Maysky tea producer Igor Lisinenko, and other Russian businessmen and officials.
Earlier, on October 13, the authorities of Cyprus decided to cancel the program of granting citizenship for investment from November 1. The statement by the Cypriot authorities was preceded by the publication of an Al Jazeera investigation that several high-ranking officials, politicians, lawyers, and developers in Cyprus were allegedly involved in a scheme that allowed criminals to obtain “golden passports”.