Iranians want to store their money in Turkish Cyprus
JALE ÖZGENTÜRKTurkish Cyprus is constantly receiving calls from Iranians looking to deposit money there after the American embargo blocked Iranian and other countries’ money traffic, the Turkish Cypriot finance minister has said.
Recently, after the decision to levy a tax on accounts exceeding 100,000 euros in Greek Cyprus, it has been said that depositors wanted to move capital to Turkish Cyprus.
Turkish Cyprus Finance Minister Ersin Tatar explained that not only Russians, who have a high portfolio in Greek Cyprus, but also depositors from other countries that are under American embargo such as Iran and Syria are demanding to put their money in Turkish Cyprus banks.
Tatar said if black money came to Turkish Cyprus, it would also infect Turkey. “This is Turkey’s backyard. If black money comes to us, then it will also infect Turkey. Annoying Turkey annoys us. We would not put Turkey in a difficult situation.”
Tatar said when calls came from Iran to transfer money, the answer was a suggestion to move it through legal means. After this answer there was no follow-up call, Tatar said, pointing out that international money traffic was constantly being monitored.
The developments in Greek Cyprus did not happen overnight; there were signals starting six months ago, Tatar said. He also said, “The Russians did not withdraw their money, why? Because they had nowhere to go.”
No new bank licenses
Two sectors, namely tourism and education, stand out in Turkish Cyprus and 50,000 students are studying there, Tatar said. “Some 65 percent of the students are Turkish. The rest are students coming from countries like Iran, Nigeria, Palestine and Syria. There is even one student from Nepal. Actually, the money [people want to move] here already has an organic connection,” he said.
There are 22 banks in Turkish Cyprus, Tatar said, adding that only six of them were Turkish Cypriot-capital banks. “There are nine off-shore banks, but we will not allow any others.”
70 king suites
The Merit Group, which has launched the most significant tourism investments in Cyprus, is opening the Merit Royal to target rich Chinese and Arab tourists. The hotel has 70 king suites. Personalized services are provided by noting in advance how many ice cubes the customer usually has in his or her drink or what kind of pillow he or she prefers. Merit International Hotels Executive Committee head Reha Arar said they had undertaken the mission of diversifying tourism in Turkish Cyprus as the Merit Tourism Group. “The Merit International Hotels and Resort, a member of Net Holding, has increased the bed capacity on the island to 2,500. With our new hotel that will open in May, the Merit Royal Hotel, the number of our hotels in the region will be seven. As the Merit Tourism Group, we have invested more than $700 million in Cyprus since 1990.”
Jale Özgentürk is a columnist for daily Radikal, in which this piece was published on April 16. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.
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