October 21, 2018

Statement by the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning accusations made by Former CIA Director James Woosley in “La Repubblica” newspaper

The Government of the Republic of Cyprus expresses its great surprise and concern at allegations made by former CIA chief James Woosley during an interview to the Italian daily La Republica published today (18.9.01). The Government of the Republic of Cyprus categorically refutes these allegations in the strongest possible way. The spokesperson of the US Embassy in Nicosia stated today, in this regard, that commentators such as Mr. Woosley “speak only for themselves and do not represent US Government policy.”

Unfounded and unjustifiable attacks such as those by Mr. Woosley are both disingenuous and seriously undermine the good faith efforts and commitment of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus to contribute to the international efforts to combat financial crimes and terrorism. The Government of Cyprus wishes to stress that it has been in constant contact and dialogue with the Government of the United States of America with a view to cooperating in combating money laundering, international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction etc. At no time during this cooperation has the issue of funds belonging to the terrorist organization headed by Osama bin Laden been raised. Such serious allegations would have been fully investigated by the Cypriot authorities as in the case of other requests for cooperation and investigation of information.

As regards the allegations by Mr. Woosley that Cyprus is a financial haven the Cyprus Government recalls that the US Department of State International Narcotics Control Strategy Report outlines the anti-money laundering regime in place in Cyprus and states that the “central bank has in place a strict regulatory framework aimed at preventing abuses within the offshore sector”. The report also notes the cooperation that exists between the two countries in fighting this growing international phenomenon. In 2000, the Financial Action Task Force, of which the US is a member, conducted a review of Cyprus´s anti- money laundering regime against 25 specific criteria. Cyprus was not identified as a non-cooperative country in the fight against money laundering. The report states that: “Cyprus has a comprehensive anti-money laundering system.” It is also recalled that Cyprus was not included in the list of tax havens that was published by the OECD Forum for Harmful Tax Practices in June 2000. Most recently in July 2001, the IMF released its assessment of the banking supervision in respect of the offshore sector and commented positively.

The Government of Cyprus wishes to reiterate that it fully recognizes the existence and the dimensions of this international problem. The fight against international crime, particularly terrorism, through international cooperation, has become one of the top priorities of the foreign policy of Cyprus. The Government wishes to stress that it will act with the requisite speed and seriousness in response to any information and requests received from competent national authorities that point to the terrorist organization headed by Osama bin Laden or any other terrorists using the financial system of Cyprus. The Government requests that if such information exists,  be made available immediately, in order that the necessary investigations and measures are undertaken forthwith. Cyprus is committed to cooperating with the United States and other countries, both bilaterally as well in international for a to fight terrorism and its sponsorship.