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2002-09-30 11:01:07

September 27, 2002-- Embassy of Cyprus Thanks Members of Congress For Their Efforts to Correct Erroneous References to Cyprus in Pending Legislation

Responding quickly to the erroneous inclusion of the Republic of Cyprus on a list of "tax haven" jurisdictions recently included in an amendment to the U.S. Homeland Security bill and the various Appropriations bills, a bipartisan group of 27 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives at the initiative of Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) signed a letter praising the economic policies of Cyprus "as shoulder to shoulder with the U.S." and formally requested that the list be corrected by deleting all references Cyprus.

In a September 25th letter to House Majority Leader Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX), Chairman of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, the 27 Members of Congress faulted "inaccurate and out-dated information" as the reason Cyprus was mistakenly included on the list.

The letter points out that Cyprus "has adopted stringent measures to prevent tax evasion"; recently put into force with the U.S. a Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters; has "harmonized its tax structure with that of the EU", which Cyprus is poised to soon enter; took "a major tax reform step" last July "by enacting a unified corporate tax rate"; and made commitments to cooperate with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to address harmful tax practices."

The letter further notes: "Cyprus' commitment to tax transparency resulted in the placement of Cyprus on the OECD's list of cooperating jurisdictions " a move applauded by then-Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers, who called upon other jurisdictions to follow the example set by Cyprus."

The Ambassador of Cyprus to the United States Dr. Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis expressed appreciation for the initiative of the Members in addressing these potentially damaging errors. "The Government of Cyprus is grateful to the signatories of the letter and to all its friends in the U.S. Congress for their consistent support and for their immediate response on this issue," she said. "Over the years, Congress has contributed significantly to strengthening relations between our two countries and promoting a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem."

Ambassador Marcoullis particularly wants to thank Rep. Bilirakis "for his timely actions on this matter?" as well as the three Members -- Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) -- who joined him in circulating the letter and securing the support of many of their colleagues. "Their leadership and their unwavering support for Cyprus over the years is much appreciated," she said.

A copy of the letter along with relevant supporting documents has also been forwarded to the members of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Appropriations and Ways and Means Committees.

The letter to House Majority Leader Rep. Armey was also signed by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY.), Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Rep. David Dreier (R-CA), Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-CA), Rep. Steven R. Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), Rep. Phil English (R-PA), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Rep. George W. Gekas (R-PA), Rep. Michael R. McNulty (D-NY), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-CA), Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-NY), Rep. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Donald M. Payne (D-NJ).

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