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Cyprus Finance Ministry: More than 1.2 billion euros in Russian assets frozen

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Some 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in Russian-owned assets managed by Cyprus-registered companies were frozen in compliance with sanctions imposed on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine, Cyprus' Finance Ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry told The Associated Press “the vast majority” of those assets were held in European Union credit institutions and the entire amount came on top of 105 million euros frozen by banks in Cyprus.

The ministry provided the information in response to European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders saying last week that Cyprus appeared to be falling behind on freezing Russian-owned assets.

Reynders said that while other EU member nations each froze 2-4 billion euros worth of Russian assets, Cyprus’ reported sum of around 100 million euros “seems to be a little low.”

The Finance Ministry said this was an error owed to the European Commission receiving incomplete information – an error since rectified by updating a relevant database.

Meanwhile, the Cypriot government is stepping up its supervisory capacity to ensure compliance with international sanctions by setting up a specialized unit modeled after the U.K.’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), according to the ministry.

The Cyprus government is also keen on joining a European Commission program on supporting “the effective and uniform implementation of sanctions.”