Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has denied any involvement in allegations that a law firm founded by him was hiding the assets of a controversial Russian senator behind fake beneficial owners. This was done in a secret report filed with Caribbean financial regulators.
In a statement to the Guardian released on Sunday, Anastasiades said: “I have no knowledge and it would be impossible for me to know and be in a position to respond to any allegations concerning the handling of the affairs of my ex-law firm.”
Anastasiades also said that while he owned shares in the Anastasiades & Partners law firm until his election in 2013, he had no active role in its affairs after becoming leader of the opposition in 1997.
In the meantime, the Limassol-based law firm has denied filing false information to the broker.
There is no suggestion in the Pandora investigation which was also published in The Guardian as well as The Washington Post, the BBC, Radio France and the Indian Express that Anastasiades was involved in the firm’s activities.
However, the response raises questions about the president’s wisdom in allowing a legal firm, over which he apparently had neither oversight nor control, to operate under his name while he served as a prominent politician.
A Panamanian offshore company broker, Alcogal, had complained that the Cypriot law firm claimed to it that four of the offshore companies it was managing were beneficially owned by its staff.
However, in the report, filed to financial regulators in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) on June 8, 2015, it said it had come to believe it had been misled, and it now believed the true owner was the Russian businessman and former senator Leonid Lebedev.
Lebedev fled his home country in 2015 after being accused of failing to declare his assets. He denies the allegations, and has since become a Hollywood film producer.
A group of news organisations has released the Pandora investigation findings after reviewing what it describes as a massive leak of confidential financial records revealing assets held offshore by politicians and public officials worldwide.