MEPs demand countermeasures after Cyprus Confidential

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“Impunity for violating sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is still very widespread in Europe,” report members of the Renew Europe group.

Allegations that Cypriot investment firms and banks have been involved in helping sanctioned Russian oligarchs hide their wealth to escape EU sanctions are serious and require countermeasures, MEPs’ political group Renew Europe says, ahead of the debate to the European Parliament on the occasion of the “Cyprus Confidential” investigation.

In a statement, MEPs note that this comes at the same time as the EU is working on a new directive to harmonize criminal offenses and penalties for tax evasion across the EU.

“Impunity for violating sanctions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remains very widespread in Europe,” they report, adding that the Renew Europe group “fears that sanctions will become meaningless without the introduction and enforcement of anti-tax evasion rules ».

“Anyone who helps oligarchs violate sanctions, either intentionally or through gross negligence, should be punished,” the group notes. He adds that member states should strictly adhere to the European Commission’s rules.

He reports that, ahead of today’s debate in the European Parliament, where the Renew Europe group will seek answers from the Council and the Commission on how they will respond, Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld, European Parliament’s rapporteur on “Directive on the definition of criminal offenses and sanctions for the violation of restrictive measures of the Union” states that, “Cyprus is an integral part of the EU, therefore it is not a Cypriot scandal but a European scandal that concerns us all”.

“The complete lack of enforcement of EU law by both national authorities and the European Commission has turned the EU into a gangster’s paradise,” Ms in ‘t Veld was quoted as saying in the statement. He also said, according to the announcement, that Russian oligarchs have gone about their business freely, “roaming the EU with golden passports as Putin’s wallets.” The MEP raised the question of how the authorities didn’t do anything or if they didn’t know anything and why again journalists are the ones who investigate and uncover crimes. “How come you have to rely on them for law enforcement?” it says.

Parliament will debate on Wednesday how to respond in the wake of the “Cyprus Confidential” investigation.

The MEPs, according to a briefing from the EP, will discuss with the Council and the Commission ways to urgently and effectively cover all the “loopholes” in the financial system and to speed up the ongoing negotiations with the member states on stricter rules to combat of money laundering.

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