US praises Cyprus' role in fight against illicit drug proceeds
Nicosia, Oct 30 – Cyprus has been an exemplary partner of the US in the fight against illegal drug trafficking and against the flow of money associated with drug trafficking, US Ambassador to Cyprus Ronald Schlicher has said.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a seminar on “Asset Forfeiture and Financial Investigation” presented in Nicosia by US experts, Schlicher said that “in September 2006, we, together, were able to freeze over 2.3 million dollars of illicit drug proceeds.”
He added that in April 2005, a joint investigation resulted in the identification of 25 Cypriot bank accounts with 440.000 dollars being utilized by members of an illegal internet pharmacy organization.
Mr. Schlicher also said that in September 2005 another one million dollars was frozen in another joint internet pharmacy case.
“It is constant efforts like yours that back in the US the (Drug Enforcement Administration) DEA financial investigations that have more than tripled since 2003,” he added.
“Consequently several major international drug trafficking organizations have been dismantled,” he noted, expressing that this professional exchange will improve all investigating efforts and to have a successful conclusion for each drug related asset forfeiture case.
Ambassador Schlicher also noted that an effort like this “is very important to our bilateral cooperation together and the ideas we exchange with Cyprus.”
On his part, Chief of Cyprus Police Charalambos Koulentis said that “we are concerned of the danger of possible abuse of Cyprus financial facilities for criminal activities.”
“Therefore all international measures, legislative and practical were adopted in Cyprus in order to face this problem. The fight against financial crime, money laundering and drug trafficking, through international cooperation, has become one of the priorities of our policy,” he added.
The seminar, which ends tomorrow, is attended by members of the Cyprus Police, the Cyprus Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS), the Customs Department and the Central Bank of Cyprus and is focusing on issues concerning assert forfeiture, money laundering and financial crime.