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Russian companies in Cyprus may lose billions

March 18, 2013, 11:26 UTC+3

According to the Moody's agency, Russian depositors have a total of about 20 bln out of more than 90 bln euros in bank accounts in Cyprus

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Cyprus's authorities under the European Union pressure have taken the unprecedented decision to impose a one-time "tax" on holders of deposit accounts in Cyprian banks 6.75 percent on an account of less than 100,000 euros and 9.9 percent for more in exchange for an anti-crisis loan of 10 billion dollars. Russians who keep tens of billions of dollars in Cyprus will be worst affected by the sanctions and may lose, according to experts' estimates, more than two billion euros.

Finance ministers of the countries of the Eurozone, as a result of their ten-hour meeting, agreed to provide financial support of up to 10 billion euros for Cyprus, the Kommersant notes. It is considerably lower than the needed loan sum of 1617 bln preliminary estimated by experts. The rest sum, and this is the key condition of the Eurogroup, Cyprus must get by imposing the one-time tax on deposits in Cyprian banks. Those whose account sum does not exceed 100,000 must pay 6.75 percent of the deposit amount. For accounts exceeding 100,000, the rate is set at 9.9 percent. According to the estimates of the group of three international creditors, the country's government can gather 5.8 billion euros.

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloum briefly explained the unprecedentedly hard conditions for a support tranche for Cyprus by the substantial amount and the special structure of Cyprus’s financial sector, which exceeds the country's GDP by more than seven times. By 2018, the index must be brought to the EU average rate, the finance ministers noted in their statement. It means that the EU does not conceal the sense of the operation the financial requisitions are needed to halt the work of Cyprus as an international financial centre in the Eurozone. After it is brought to the EU average, Cyprus will cease to be a European banking centre, and not so much for the Eurozone, but rather for the sterling and rouble zones. Most affected by the "tax" in Cyprus will be British and Russian companies and individuals. According to the Moody's agency, Russian depositors have a total of about 20 bln out of more than 90 bln euros in bank accounts in Cyprus.

The tax on deposits first of all will hit Russian capitals on the island, the RBC daily notes. Cyprus's Finance Ministry reported early this year that the amount of deposits exceeded 70 bln euros in local banks and 30 bln in foreign banks. Russian depositors took the news about the tax very emotionally, the daily notes. "It is expropriation of private property, even if partial, but expropriation. And I believe Cyprus after that will lose the role of a financial centre it has played until now. I think trust of investors in Cyprian banks and the state will be undermined for many years, since the country largely have lived by providing financial services," believes chairman of the board of the Kit Finance bank Andrei Degtyarev.

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