Unlike many other popular initial coin offering (ICO) jurisdictions, Cyprus is an EU member state and, as such, founders of ICOs must comply with the panoply of single market regulation. However, as they are largely unregulated at present, the benefits of launching an ICO in Cyprus can be significant. These include an EU base, a central time zone, access to Cyprus's vast array of tax treaties and white-list status among tax authorities globally.
Cypriot companies are frequently used in cross-border structures, whereby their securities are listed on a regulated market of another member state. In this regard, Cypriot issuers and holders of securities in cross-border listing structures must consider the often overlooked notification requirements under the EU Transparency Directive.
The European Union recently scaled back sanctions regarding Iran, marking the country's return to international capital markets. Investment in Iran through Cyprus-based companies and institutions offers international investors unparalleled benefits over other models of foreign direct investment. These include the Cyprus-Iran bilateral investment treaty, the Cyprus-Iran double tax treaty and Cyprus alternative investment funds.
The minister of finance recently published two new decrees that further relax banking restrictions. The first decree clarifies the restrictions that are in place on the use of credit and debit cards and other payment instruments, while the second allows foreign credit institutions and their customers to enjoy relaxed restrictions, subject to certain conditions.
Investment funds in Cyprus are supervised by a common regulator and can be marketed across the European Union on a passport basis. The passport for undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities is a tool for fund promoters that intend to target retail investors, while the passport for alternative investment funds is used by fund promoters that intend to solicit professional investors.
Two new decrees were recently issued in Cyprus pertaining to the relaxation of restrictive measures. The first further clarifies the restrictions that are in place on the use of credit and debit cards and other payment instruments, while the second relaxes the restrictions on foreign credit institutions and their customers, subject to certain conditions. Both are in force for one month.
The Ministry of Finance recently published the 10th Decree, as required by Articles 4 and 5 of the Enforcement of Restrictive Measures on Transactions in Case of Emergency Law. The decree allows for foreign credit institutions and their customers to enjoy relaxed restrictions subject to certain conditions. Eligible credit institutions will be entered into a catalogue and published in the Official Gazette.
The Ministry of Finance recently published the 19th Decree, as required by Articles 4 and 5 of the Enforcement of Restrictive Measures on Transactions in Case of Emergency Law. The decree further clarifies the restrictions that are in place on the use of credit and debit cards and other payment instruments, including the amounts that can be withdrawn and/or transferred from such instruments.
Cyprus has recently been in the spotlight as a result of the negotiations with the so-called 'troika' (the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission) regarding the terms of financial aid. Although a number of changes are to be introduced, these are unlikely to affect corporate structuring involving Cyprus or banking both in and outside Cyprus using a Cyprus corporate vehicle.
In order to implement the Eurogroup agreement on the restructuring of the Cypriot banking system, Parliament recently enacted a new law on the resolution of credit institutions. The law aims to pave the way for the speedy reconstruction and rehabilitation of credit institutions under resolution and the concentration of powers to a resolution authority, among other things.
Under the Banking Law, all persons with access to the records of a bank are prohibited from giving out, divulging, revealing or using for their own benefit any information regarding the account of any individual customer of the bank, unless certain exceptions apply. The rules aim to enhance the trustworthiness of banks and credit institutions and encourage them to impose internal structures in order to ensure compliance.
As a well-established financial services centre and a member of the European Union, Cyprus is one of the best environments in Europe for the provision of banking services. A credit institution which is authorised and supervised by the competent authorities of another EU member state may conduct banking activities in Cyprus either by establishing a branch or by way of provision of services.