Cyprus launches probe into Magnitsky money

Anti-money-laundering officials in Cyprus have opened an investigation into the possibility that Cyprus banks laundered stolen Russian tax money linked to the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, according to reports by

A representative from Mokas, the anti-money-laundering unit in Cyprus, told reporters Thursday that Mokas, which functions within the office of the attorney general, had opened an investigation into the matter "some time ago," according to the EU Observer.

Sergei Magnitsky was the lawyer for Hermitage Capital who was arrested and died in Russian police custody after he exposed the $230 million theft implicating government officials. For four months prior to his death in 2009, he was held at Butyrka detention center where prescribed treatments for pancreatitis and gallstones were withheld from him.

The EU Observer said that in July, lawyers for Magnitsky's former employer, Hermitage Capital investment fund, submitted evidence to the Cyprus attorney general that showed $31 million in tax money had been moved out of Russia using five Cypriot banks: Alpha Bank, Cyprus Popular Bank, FBME Bank, Privatbank International and Komercbanka.

Serving the questionable interests of big Russian clients brings has brought in about $26 million to Cyprus in recent years, according to the EU Observer.