21 November 2023

We make reference to certain publications made by the ICIJ under the heading CyprusConfidential and which include references to Abacus Ltd. As these publications make insinuations that undermine the professional integrity and reputation of our firm, we are compelled to issue this statement to present the true facts in relation to what has been falsely and misleadingly published about Abacus Ltd.

We note that Abacus Ltd (“Abacus”) is a regulated professional services firm founded in 2001.

With the imposition of financial sanctions against Russia, Abacus took immediate actions to comply fully, freezing all assets under its administration of any designated person (EU, US & UK) and reporting them accordingly to the supervisory authorities.  Abacus even went a step beyond, and voluntarily applied UK and US prohibitions whereby it terminated relationship with all clients ordinarily resident in Russia as per UK and US sectoral sanctions on accounting and TCSP services.  

The specific publications make no claim that Abacus acted in violation of sanctions, but rather vaguely state that Abacus somehow “helped” a specific Russian oligarch to “quietly” transfer $5,000,000 “on the day” that he was sanctioned by the EU. 

To set the record straight, we state the following:

  1. The transfer in question was processed by Abacus at 12:19 on 28/2/2022, more than seven hours before the designation was published in the EU official journal (19:49 of the same day). The UK designated the same person 15 days later. It is therefore evident and not subject to interpretation, that when the transfer took place, NO sanctions applied.  Any suggestions (as made in the publications) that sanctions can have retrospective effect for actions taking place before the official publication of sanctions are, in the best of cases, absurd and contrary to legal principles. 

  1. Abacus had no knowledge, nor it had any means to have prior knowledge to anticipate in advance that the specific individual, who until then had been fully acceptable in the EU, UK and USA, would be designated. 

  1. The $5,000,000 transfer was processed and cleared by the remitting European (Austrian) bank (before 15:48 on the day), by the receiving UK bank and by the US correspondent bank, with complete transparency as to the purpose of the payment and the identity of the BO.  

  1. In fact, the publications themselves admit that the National Crime Agency (NCA) of the UK as well as the Central Bank of Austria confirmed that there was no question about sanctions violation by the transfer in question, given that the sanctions were published in the official journal of the EU several hours after the transfer.

  1. As regards the assets of this individual which had been under the administration of Abacus, those had been always administered with complete transparency and with full reporting of the beneficial owner (Beneficial Owners Registry and Cyprus Trusts Beneficial Owners Registry) to the competent government authorities, as well as the financial institutions involved.

It is particularly important to note that upon the announcement of sanctions against the specific Russian individual, Abacus immediately acted to freeze all his assets under its administration, reported all assets and other relevant information to the supervisory authorities (ICPAC, MEK, SEOK) and, upon obtaining the permission of MEK (Ministry of Finance Unit for Sanctions Implementation) and the Cyprus court, terminated the provision of all services in accordance with its policy about any client coming under sanctions.

Based on the facts, it is evident that Abacus acted in full compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

The reporters that carried out the “investigation” had full knowledge of all the above facts and information (they specifically mention them in the publications) and yet chose to resort to the creation of false impressions about Abacus based entirely on vague insinuations and unsubstantiated statements.  Additionally, they have falsely written that Abacus is the subject of a legal case in the UK, an entirely false and malicious statement.  Abacus is not part of any such case in the UK.  The extent of the misinformation included in the specific publications makes us seriously question the credibility and motive of their reporting in relation to our firm. 

In conclusion, we categorically reject any claim or innuendo that Abacus acted in any way that violated or circumvented applicable sanctions.  Abacus reiterates its full alignment with EU, UK and US sanctions regulations as well as the international effort to stop Russian aggression in the Ukraine.  

Abacus Ltd