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Cyprus Confidential: The guilt that haunts us and the contentious economic model of Cyprus

Professor Georgios Babiniotis, whose dictionaries are the definitive reference texts for teh Greek-speaking world, defines "guilt" as, among other things, "the unpleasant feeling experienced by anyone who is aware that he has committed something bad".

Of course, in many cases, someone may experience the unpleasant feeling of guilt, not because he is really guilty, but because, as a result of a surrounding atmosphere which for various reasons has been created around his person, he ends up feeling guilty, even if his actions were not such as to make him so.

Or sometimes because, for some, self-blame is, for apparently genetic, existential or other reasons, part of their DNA, temperament, and other related characteristics in general.

The above observations are obviously not part of any sociological or other science-related analysis, but are a reflection of how a significant portion of Cypriot society tends to approach, deal with, and experience major political and economic events and situations concerning our country, the development or outcome of which bring Cyprus at the end of the day to be placed in the dock of the accused in the conscience of the international public opinion.

And this part of Cypriot society condemns the country too easily, not on the basis of evidence, but on the logic of the surrounding environment, on the basis of claims and adopting narratives of which nothing, or almost nothing, has been substantiated.

The examples in history are many, most recently that of the infamous " Cyprus Confidential investigation revelations". An investigation that was heralded, advertised, and presented by its contributors - the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists - as if it was going to turn Cyprus upside down with its findings as if it was going to make the "revelations" of the century.

We neither saw nor read any such revelations however, and, more than a week later we are still trying to comprehend and understand why the investigation was called "Cyprus Confidential".

With most of the "revelations" it made having absolutely nothing to do with Cyprus, it would make some sense to call it, and we could clearly more easily accept it, "Abramovich Papers" let's say, or why not, " Russian Oligarchs Papers'. It would be much closer to reality, its content would be reflected much more accurately.

"...How Cyprus became the heart of the shadow financial system of the Putin regime...", was the pompous, among other things, reference to the accompanying introductory text of the announced "revelations", with their content, documents, articles, and published analyses, however, in no way justify or prove the above, sufficiently impressive but, however, highly misleading claim.

After all, it is no coincidence that even the "Guardian" in one of its articles bluntly admitted the absence of any evidence to prove an intention to violate the rules on the part of Cyprus and its professional services. "... (they) have seen no evidence showing any intention to break the rules...", wrote the British newspaper, whose journalists were part of the investigation, with the conclusions left by us to be drawn by our within-the-borders scaremongers.

For us, what ended up being "Cyprus Confidential" and the alleged revelations of the investigation, was nothing more than a vile, malicious, and unfair attempt to hurt Cyprus and its professional services, a stab in the back for our country and its effort to develop into an international business centre.

By targeting Cyprus, PwC and other professional service providers, through cheap, one-dimensional, yellow journalism of a manipulative kind, the ICIJ team failed not only to prove their claims, but also to do something else very important. To stick to the pretexts, to not be so deafeningly loud with ill-intentions towards Cyprus...

The... guilty Cypriots and the new economic model

If it is something that, on the other hand, "Cyprus Confidential" certainly succeeded with, it is exactly what we mentioned at the beginning of this article.

The overwhelming feeling of guilt among many in Cyprus, who adopted without a second thought the investigative journalists' narrative, hastened from the very first moment to indulge in their beloved practice.

That of self-flagellation, scaremongering, their voluntary or involuntary participation in the foreigners' game, and the purposes they serve.

The contributors of the research - and others- found allies, which was not surprising to them. Not surprising, because the guilt syndromes that possess us as a people is well known to them, because they are very aware that they can "bet" on these people and how to make use of them.

These well-known economic theorists immediately seized the opportunity to start anew the theories about the necessity of changing the economic model of Cyprus, to focus on green growth and such nonsene, to put forward the position that we should abandon the service model.

They, of course, in their argument ignored the reality that Cyprus and the country's professional services offices stopped serving Russian oligarchs after the sanctions arrived in 2022, and that Cyprus and the island's professional services have already changed the economic model long ago.

They changed the financial model long before, adopting and following well before 2022 the international standards in vital regulatory parameters such as KYC (Know Your Customer), anti-money laundering (AML), substance requirements, etc., while the providers of professional services have for years been talking about foreign companies of known prestige and standing, there are no longer shell companies in their clientele.

Just as there are certainly no clients and oligarchs in Cyprus who are under sanctions, with the banks closing thousands of accounts of Russian and other foreign clients about whom they did not know the source of their money.

It is indicative that according to a recent announcement by the Central Bank of Cyprus, from the end of 2018 until today, credit institutions terminated business relations with a total of 42,728 shell companies and closed 125,782 bank accounts.

At the same time, since 2015, as a result of its supervisory controls for the purposes of preventing the use of the financial system for money laundering or terrorist financing, the CBC has imposed fines in 13 cases.

It therefore becomes clear that now Cyprus and its professional services are focused on attracting companies that will establish a base in Cyprus with offices and staff, and doing so with great success.

The economic model of Cyprus has been redefined and our country is showing its ability to develop as an important international business centre, through the indisputable development of sectors such as investment funds, trusts, family offices, and wealth management, something which of course demands and entails offering high-level professional services to foreign companies and High Net Worth Individuals.

At the same time, the upgrades of the country's economy and banks by international rating agencies, the descent of giant companies, such as MUFG and the creation of hundreds of jobs, the strengthening of the shipping sector, the creation and development of the technology sector, but also the fact that the growth rate of the Cypriot economy is one of the best in Europe, are realities that also beyond any doubt confirm the right direction towards which the economic model of Cyprus is moving.

Recognising therefore the need to implement, with speed and determination, institutional, regulatory and supervisory reforms, at the same time the enormous positive changes that we have brought about as a state and as an economy should not be underestimated.

It is time to put an end to the nonsense about changing the economic model of Cyprus, as this change is already underway and bearing fruit, which is obvious to everyone except those who want to blind themselves.

They are the fruits that are reflected in the country's development and its growth rates, a development that does not only benefit the few, as the perpetual pessimists, scaremongers and doomsayers like to project, but the country in its entirety, the whole of society.

It is finally time for everyone to realise that there is only one way to achieve the goal of sustainable development. The attraction by Cyprus of foreign companies and executives, entrepreneurs with high salaries to settle and operate on our island.

And those who are the first to shoot indiscriminately, must realise that without providers of professional services to foreigners, Cyprus' ability to attract them will clearly degenerate, perhaps even become annihilated...

(Source: InBusinessNews)

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