AML Cyprus: What Businesses Need to Know

AML Cyprus: What Businesses Need to Know

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AML (Anti-Money Laundering) in Cyprus, is an essential compliance requirement that significantly influences business operations. With Cyprus ranking 34th on the Basel AML Index 2022, navigating these requirements is vital for every enterprise operating here.

Cyprus, being an attractive business hub due to its strategic location and favourable tax regime, is committed to implementing stringent AML regulations. This commitment to transparency and ethical financial practices is laudable, yet it does place an additional layer of responsibility on businesses. Understanding AML in Cyprus is not only a legal obligation but also an investment in safeguarding your company’s reputation and financial health.

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Thinking about incorporating your company in Cyprus?

Book a free consultation with a trusted company incorporation lawyer, and get guidance on legal requirements, tax implications to help you navigate the local business landscape.

The AML Framework in Cyprus

The AML landscape in Cyprus is governed by a robust framework in line with EU standards and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. Businesses must be aware of this framework, which is designed to counter threats posed by illicit financial activities. The framework focuses on ensuring transparency, proper record-keeping, and regular reporting.

Cyprus’ AML regulations primarily revolve around the Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering Activities Law. This law, amended numerous times to incorporate international best practices, provides the blueprint for AML measures in Cyprus. It is crucial for businesses to stay updated on these amendments to maintain compliance.

The Importance of a Risk-Based Approach

One notable aspect of AML in Cyprus is the Risk-Based Approach (RBA). The RBA mandates that businesses must assess their specific exposure to money laundering risks and implement controls accordingly. This risk assessment should be ongoing, taking into account factors like customers, products, services, and geographical reach. A survey by Deloitte revealed that 81% of firms globally have adopted an RBA.

Understanding the AML framework in Cyprus is not merely about grasping the legal jargon. It’s about knowing the “why” behind the “what”. Money laundering has far-reaching consequences, from undermining economic stability to fuelling crime. Hence, AML regulations form the frontline of defence against these threats.

The Evolution of AML Regulations in Cyprus

The Journey of AML Cyprus

Tracing the development of AML regulations in Cyprus reveals the country’s commitment to combating financial crime. The journey started in 1996, with the enactment of the first Prevention and Suppression of Money Laundering Activities Law. Since then, the law has evolved significantly in response to global and local changes.

Impact of EU Directives on AML Cyprus

AML Cyprus underwent a substantial change in 2007 when the third EU Money Laundering Directive was transposed into national law. This incorporation expanded the scope of AML regulations, introducing the risk-based approach and extending the obligations to a broader range of entities.

In 2018, another critical milestone was the transposition of the Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive. This directive reinforced the risk-based approach and brought about stricter transparency requirements, particularly concerning beneficial ownership information.

More recently, Cyprus has responded to the Fifth EU Money Laundering Directive and FATF’s updated recommendations. Such efforts demonstrate Cyprus’s dedication to maintaining a rigorous, up-to-date AML framework, reflecting global standards.

The 5th EU Money Laundering Directive had a significant impact on AML Cyprus. As per the EU, the directive has influenced over 50,000 companies in Cyprus, intensifying their AML responsibilities.

Key AML Compliance Measures for Businesses

Complying with AML Cyprus regulations involves implementing several measures:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive risk assessment
  2. Establish suitable policies and controls
  3. Maintain meticulous records of transactions
  4. Implement customer due diligence measures
  5. Report any suspicious activities to MOKAS

Table 1: Key Compliance Measures and Their Purposes

Compliance MeasurePurpose
Risk AssessmentIdentify potential vulnerabilities to money laundering
Policies and ControlsMitigate identified risks
Record-keepingFacilitate investigation and audit by authorities
Customer Due DiligenceUnderstand customer risk profiles
ReportingAlert authorities about possible illegal activities

The Role of Financial Institutions in AML Compliance

Financial institutions play a pivotal role in AML Cyprus compliance. Banks, in particular, are the first line of defence against money laundering, given their direct interface with customers and their transactions. Their responsibilities go beyond just implementing regulations; they set the tone for how seriously AML is taken in the Cypriot business environment.

In the past five years, fines issued to global banks for AML non-compliance have totalled over €14 billion, highlighting the seriousness of this responsibility. In Cyprus, banks are a critical part of the AML landscape.

Duties and Expectations of Banks

Under Cyprus’s AML regulations, banks are required to establish robust internal policies and procedures. They should also have an appointed officer responsible for overseeing AML measures. This officer should be given the necessary authority and resources to ensure effective implementation of the bank’s AML policies.

Additionally, banks have a critical role in customer due diligence. They should not only verify the identity of their customers but also monitor their transactions. Unusual or suspicious transactions should be flagged and reported to MOKAS.

Moreover, banks should provide ongoing AML training to their staff. This training should equip employees to understand AML policies, recognize suspicious activities, and respond appropriately.

Implications of Non-compliance

Non-compliance with AML Cyprus regulations carries severe consequences. Breaching AML regulations can lead to hefty fines, business disruption, and even imprisonment. As per data from the Central Bank of Cyprus, over €8 million in fines were issued in 2021 for AML non-compliance. However, the repercussions of non-compliance go beyond these immediate penalties.

Non-compliance can also result in significant reputational damage. A reputation for poor AML practices can deter customers and partners, affecting a business’s market position and growth prospects. In an era where corporate ethics and transparency are highly valued, AML compliance is not just a legal obligation, but a moral one as well.

Table 2: Implications of Non-compliance with AML Regulations

FinesMonetary penalties imposed by regulatory authorities
Business DisruptionInterruption of business activities due to investigations
ImprisonmentLegal penalties for responsible individuals
Banking ChallengesDifficulty in establishing banking relationships
Reputational DamageNegative public perception, loss of customers and partners


Following the AML Cyprus regulations is a necessary part of doing business in Cyprus. With over 250,000 registered companies in Cyprus, understanding these regulations and implementing robust compliance measures can protect your business from financial crime and contribute to Cyprus’s financial integrity. As we’ve seen, AML is not just about complying with the law; it’s about safeguarding your business’s reputation, growth, and longevity.

As we’ve explored, the realm of AML Cyprus legislation is complex, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. At, we can guide you through this regulatory landscape. We also connect you with reliable partners like lawyers, insurance brokers, and accountants who provide the necessary support.

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