A specialist in capital management who lives in Cyprus, about the situation with bank accounts of Russians.
Life under sanctions has taught Russians a lot, including very quickly react to various "signals" related to the preservation of their personal capital. That's why the rumors that our "beat" in Cyprus, instantly entered the top of the news. To understand what really happens in this friendly Russian capital of jurisdiction, it is necessary to consider in detail a few key issues.
Let's start with what is now the main "pain" of the Cypriots, to the emergence of which they were not ready. This is the country's largest bank - Bank of Cyprus. In order to understand its meaning, I will say this: it's the Cyprus Sberbank. This financial institution is also a major international player, traditionally serving a large number of business ties around the world.
Unfortunately for the Cypriots, it turned out that 9,27% of shares in Bank of Cyprus belong to billionaire Viktor Vekselberg F 9, which has recently been under American sanctions. This means that the bank was "under the hood," and at any time it may be subject to certain restrictions or even sanctions from the US.
That is why the May visit of the OFAC delegation - the Department of the US Treasury Department for Foreign Assets Management and the main sanction body - was so seriously taken in Cyprus. In addition, it is difficult to assume that the island does not have personal or corporate accounts of those Russians who are already under sanctions, and those who were included in the so-called "Kremlin list", published in late January. The latter is a real Klondike for anyone who wants to look for "fried" on the shelves of the banks of Cyprus.
Another important point to keep in mind when considering the situation of Russians in local banks is the famous citizenship for investment program, which in fact offers a Cyprus passport for € 2 million. It causes a flood of criticism in the EU countries. It is not known how much this program will still exist and in what form. While the government of Cyprus is doing everything possible to keep it afloat. Recently, it was announced that the rules for obtaining foreign citizenship have been tightened and the annual limit has been introduced in the amount of 700 passports per year. Fanciful skyscrapers on the embankment of Limassol are waiting for new Cypriots and should be sold.
All this forces the Cypriot regulatory authorities to skillfully maneuver between the increased requirements for banks, the sanctions problems of Russians and the interests of their country, which has just begun to get out of the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2012. No one here needs conflicts, scandals, sensations.
Against this background, first in the telegram channels, and then in the media, information appears about the difficulties of several Russians with bank accounts in Cyprus. Someone was offered to close the account, someone considered overstating the requirements for additional documents that had not been requested before, and so on.
Let's understand. Can someone close a bank account? Of course they can. There are only two main reasons for this: you did not provide the information requested by the bank and your documents do not satisfy the bank. Here is a typical example: Mr. X has $ 700 000 on his account and, according to modern requirements, the bank can ask him for information about their origin, income, paid taxes, and so on.
Not always what the bank receives from its customers, it suits. Then he suggests "parting", and this is normal. This happens not only in Cyprus, but also in Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain, Singapore, and also sometimes in far Panama and even in the Cayman Islands. The world has changed, and you need to be ready for this.
Cyprus banks have traditionally been very friendly to Russians. In any case, no one freezes bills if you have problems with some or other "evidence" papers, and no one gives the client two weeks to collect their money. With such an attitude, for example, Russians recently encountered in Latvia.
Among the nomadic "facts" about Cypriot banks you can find this: Russians close accounts and advise to go to RBC - Russian Commercial Bank, the third-largest bank on the island. There is an impression that everyone is taken there. It is enough to show the Russian passport. But this information is also far from reality. Yes, the RBC bank has "Russian" roots - 46% belongs to VTB, but it's a Cypriot bank that operates under local laws and it's often more difficult to open an account there than, for example, in the "native" Bank of Cyprus or Hellenic Bank.
In many materials of the Russian media, it was astonished that problems with accounts may arise even among those Russians who received a local passport. But what's so surprising about it? The Cyprus passport is not an indulgence for all occasions that a new citizen of the country may face. In addition, at present, the procedure for checking potential applicants applies only to the money that it intends to invest, for example, in real estate. All the rest, his wealth is not "transparent".
So, if the newly-made Cypriot wants to bring an additional $ 5 million or $ 30 million to the island, say, he will certainly be interested in their origin. If the submitted documents do not satisfy the bank, the client will be refused this operation, and he will be included in the list of unreliable customers. It is possible that such stories may become in the future and the reason for the revocation of citizenship.
What conclusions can be drawn from all that has been said? Worldwide, the requirements for purity of money and opening bank accounts are tightened. Unfortunately, in the long term, we are facing only a decline in comfort in this area. So you should prepare for the use of foreign financial services long before you decided to do it. Remember, problems are not with banks, but with us or our willingness to meet modern requirements.