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Cyprus Crisis Sees Russian Investors Flee to Virgin Islands

Published: August 19, 2013 (Issue # 1773)



  • Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

President Vladimir Putin's calls for domestic companies to repatriate their funds back home from offshore jurisdictions have fallen on deaf ears, with almost half of the $67 billion investment by Russian residents abroad in the first quarter of this year settling in the British Virgin Islands, according to figures released by the Central Bank on Friday.

The British Virgin Islands saw $31.66 billion of direct investment by Russian residents during the first three months of 2013 in the wake of the banking crisis in Cyprus — previously Russians' favorite tax haven. The figure skyrocketed from just $2.1 billion in the first quarter of 2012 and $4 billion during the fourth quarter of last year.

The investments accounted for 47 percent of the $67.2 billion that Russian residents invested outside the country in January through March.

The second largest investment was made in Luxembourg and accounted for $13.9 billion, up from $258 million in the first quarter of 2012 and $1.8 billion during the last three months of last year. Cyprus saw a modest $2.7 billion, down from $4.8 billion in the same period a year earlier, the Central Bank data showed.

"The figures are, apparently linked to the financial problems in Cyprus," said Alexei Devyatov, chief economist at UralSib Capital.

He suggested that, although the Cypriot crisis broke out only in March, many investors had expected problems, and this resulted in redistribution of capital flows between offshore centers in the first quarter of the year.

It might take Cyprus a few years to win back depositors' trust, Devyatov said.

The collapse of the Cypriot banking system earlier this year left the accounts of many Russian companies and individual depositors frozen, followed by a restructuring of the Bank of Cyprus and plans to liquidate Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki.

The move was part of the bailout plan approved by the Cypriot government and its European Union creditors that also envisaged that the island country's authorities would slash part of the deposits in the Bank of Cyprus exceeding 100,000 euros to recapitalize the lender. The bank's clients falling under this category will lose 47.5 percent of their savings, Reuters reported earlier this month.

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Thursday, Apr. 17


Expocenter Eurasia at 13 Ulitsa Kapitan Voronin is the sight of Goods on the Way, a five-day event starting today showcasing the latest in the industrial products industry. Bags, backpacks, swimsuits and much, much more will be available to attendees hoping to update not only their style but their accessories for the upcoming summer.


Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldn’t miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norway’s largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianity’s holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti — Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the desert’s most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDA’s Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBA’s Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.