Is Cyprus stepping up to the challenge and reclaiming its role as a Corporate, Commercial, Financial and Business Centre?

Is Cyprus stepping up to the challenge and reclaiming its role as a Corporate, Commercial, Financial and Business Centre?

Interview with Mrs. Georgia Constantinou-Panayiotou LLC, Founding Lawyer and Managing Director at CONSTANTINOU – PANAYIOTOU ADVOCATES –LEGAL CONSULTANTS about Cyprus' role as a Financial Business Centre

The European Commission (EC), European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in their statements following their reviews of Cyprus’s economic program, among other positive remarks emphasize the following:

  • Decisive steps have been taken to stabilize the financial sector and deposit restrictions and capital controls have been gradually relaxed
  • Confidence indicators have improved
  • Growth is expected to recover modestly within in 2015
  • Financial sector policies have been geared toward restoring confidence in the banking system and the set up of a clear agenda to restructure and recapitalize other financial institutions without involving depositors (this refers mainly to the Cooperative Credit institutions)

In view of the above and in an effort to shed some light in an ever changing and demanding field as well as  Cyprus’s place in this challenge, we seek the professional opinion of Mrs. Georgia Constantinou-Panayiotou LLC who is a Founding Lawyer and Managing Director at CONSTANTINOU – PANAYIOTOU ADVOCATES –LEGAL CONSULTANTS with extensive experience on corporate and commercial Law as well as all prosedures regarding the legal aspects of Banking and Financial activities in Cyprus.

Mrs. Georgia Constantinou-Panayiotou can be reached at 15 Kallipoleos Avenue| Amaral 30 , Off. 202 | P.C.1055 | Nicosia | Cyprus, T: +357 22003182 | F: +357 22767220, www.gcplaw.com.cy and info@gcplaw.com.cy


1. How would you define the corporate, commercial, banking and finance law in Cyprus in connection to the rest of EU (and some non EU countries) which serve as well as financial and commercial centers? Does and can Cyprus stand the comparison?

First of all, Cyprus is a European country and in my opinion, this automatically eliminates any non-EU competition. There cannot be any comparison to the benefits of the ‘acquis communautaire’ which affects positively at a great extent all persons, the commerce, the opportunities, human rights etc.

Furthermore, the modern and pioneering legislation and the excellent level of services rendered by well trained, English-speaking professionals in conjunction with the comparatively low professional fees and lack of severe bureaucracy distinguish Cyprus as an excellent commercial centre. All the above , combined with the undoubted maturity of a sector which, for three decades now, provides high level services to clients and investors alike, elevate Cyprus its rightful position in the shortlist of options for quality financial centers.


2. Does the corporate, commercial, banking and financial law in Cyprus serve as a benefit for one to choose Cyprus for establishing and operating a firm?

Most Definitely! Cyprus offers a number of opportunities for investors and businesses for a number of reasons. But for investments to take place on the island and foreign businesses to be set up, developed and ultimately succeed, the following prerequisites are required: a solid support system, a legal framework enabling investors and businessmen to accomplish their goals, the flexibility provided by private contract law and of course government support. Cyprus does indeed fully satisfy the aforementioned prerequisites and is therefore an enticing and welcoming financial centre.

As a matter of fact, Cypriot legislation is especially designed to support investments and businesses. Cyprus, being a jurisdiction with an uncomplicated and straight-forward legislation, flexibility and commercial freedom in terms of contract and business law, the lack of commercial restrictions that we see in other origins of law (such as the central European) and a welcoming approach by all state, maintains serious competitive advantages for both businessmen and investors alike.  


3. What do you think needs to change in relation to the a/m areas (corporate, commercial, banking and finance law) of law?

The law is a constantly evolving instrument which develops and adjusts while it strives to accommodate the needs of the people.

It is therefore essential to spare no effort and remain focused on further modernizing our legal framework by introducing pioneering provisions that will meet and exceed the needs of the market. At the same time, professionals should be offered the opportunity to receive continuous training so as to be ready for the ever changing global and regional developments. Such continuous advancement of our human capital, and believe me Cyprus has impeccable professionals, will after all lead to an overall improvement of the already high level of services we provide and their enrichment with new ideas. There is always room for change and for improvement! It is this forward thinking and pre-emptive action that will enable us to offer a business environment that leads the way and is always one step ahead of competition.

4. In regards to double taxation matters what you would suggest to any interest party?

The EU has been working closely and tirelessly with the USA and the OECD over these past few years towards a new era in fighting tax evasion. The Automatic Exchange of Information is currently in the works, through the Common Reporting Standards (CRS), the revised EU Savings Directive, the FATCA (entered into the Cyprus legislation and in that of many other countries recently) and the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax matters (CMAATM). As you can appreciate all these aforementioned legislations and tools have being carved out for years and constitute the result of a joint, multinational effort.

This new legal framework, new practices and systems provide powerful ammunition in tackling and fighting effectively tax evasion internationally. I would suggest to any interested party to receive proper legal and professional advice in order to remain properly updated on such developments.  


5. How do you think that the Euro group decision of 15/03/2013 with the Cyprus bailout affected the way of businesses operate? What is the actual effect with pros and cons to Cyprus based businesses?

The Eurogroup decision of March 15th 2013 was a punch in the stomach, not only for the citizens of Cyprus but for foreign investors and businesses on the island alike. It would not be an exaggeration to state that it literally turned our reality upside down. While ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’ might sound cliché, the truth of the matter is that this exactly what happened here in Cyprus.

While there is no arguing that the said period was extremely difficult and challenging for businesses, citizens, the government and indeed the entire country, we Cypriots rose to the challenge and saw the opportunities that every crisis hides. It is these opportunities that we grabbed and turned a crisis to a chance to rectify any distortions and weaknesses in our modus operandi.

We have come through it not only reformed, but also, I would dare say, more European that we were before. This is because our country vested its future in the hands of its own, natural family which is none other than Europe. With discipline and the hard working spirit that we Cypriots are known for, we remained and still remain focused on reforms and in changing all that held us back before. I wholeheartedly believe that it is this mind-set that led to the swift action that brought our economy in a better than expected rectifying mode and in a steady path towards growth. This is precisely why we are currently being congratulated by our EU partners, the IMF and the international community at large for making Cyprus a success story.

The cost was and in some cases still is very high, for all Cypriots. However, none of us ever doubted that we were responsible for allowing the situation to get so out of hand and didn’t try to blame others for our own mistakes. In order to deal with a problem, you have to first of all acknowledge you have one. We certainly did and our pride makes us even more committed to weather the storm and reclaim our rightful position as a credible and trustworthy EU member state with a sound economy. We are certainly getting there and the results are clearly visible by all.


6. Is now a good time for one to turn for business investments in Cyprus?

I would even dare to say that now is the perfect time to establish a business in the island and explore the very enticing investment opportunities the local market provides. The banking sector is reformed and recapitalized and the advantageous corporate tax still remains one of the best in Europe and not only, having seen only a negligible increase of 0.5% going from 12% to 12.5%. With reforms already taking place simplifying processes and further decreasing bureaucracy and the level of professionalism being one of the highest, Cyprus is as attractive as ever! It is these competitive advantages that have elevated our country as a top destination in Europe for business. Let’s not forget that at the moment and through the truly attractive schemes on offer by the government, obtaining the Cypriot citizenship through investments is a much more tangible reality for many non-EU businessmen.


7. Has Cyprus as a corporate, commercial, banking and financial center lost its credibility after 15/03/2013?

I wouldn’t say lost but most certainly questioned. Every issue is judged by the end result and in this case, Cyprus has clearly illustrated that it managed to withhold its status as a financial centre irrespective of the harsh crisis it had to face. Was there doubt? Most certainly! Let’s not forget that all of us professionals in the services sector had to work harder than ever to deal with customers who might have rightfully felt betrayed. Nevertheless, we managed through hard work, professionalism and the solid foundations of trust we built over the years to restore our good name, reputation and credibility and in far shorter time than expected.


8. Are there any government services and/or agencies that might provide assistance and guidance on the matter?

We have to be truthful and recognize that what primarily needs to change is the mindset and culture we often come across in the public sector with some departments lacking motivation and willingness. I do have to say that I was particularly pleased to hear government officials underlining their commitment to adopt e-government processes which will most certainly solve many issues that are currently nothing more but thorns that prevent our position in a very competitive international arena. It is a bet that the government must win in order to further enhance our economy’s growth prospect.

We also have a role to play in pushing towards the right direction and all of us involved in the services industry must avail ourselves and our expertise in achieving the necessary changes. Establishing effective communication channels between the relevant authorities and ourselves as service providers, will certainly bring us closer to the desired results.

9. Is Cyprus a bureaucratic state? What kind of procedures are necessary for one to start a corporation/business in Cyprus?

While Cyprus is definitely not a bureaucratic state, there ample room for improvement in order to seriously increase effectiveness, reduce paperwork, enable e-government to replace outdated processes and provide a friendly, flexible and quality service to all those having to work with the State. Progress is being made but it is also up to us to push for further reforms the soonest possible.

Cyprus is an investor-friendly EU member state with a modern and transparent jurisdiction and a clear direction in attracting more foreign businesses and investors who will enjoy high level of services across the board. The potential is truly endless and now that Cyprus is rising even stronger and certainly wiser from the crisis, we must and will capitalize on our unique advantages to elevate our country to its rightful position as a leading business centre.

Closing and summarizing our interview with Mrs. Constantinou it is clear that Cyprus is indeed an investor friendly state, with hard working professionals dedicated in providing quality services, evolving according to the needs of times, excelling through challenges and overcoming difficulties to achieve effectively any goal set. Also  due to the hardships Cyprus has undergone through, it has developed to an ever more competitive business center in a ripe time  period for investments making Cyprus the place to be, work and invest.   

By Marios Tryfonos,  Bachelor of Laws student at University of London (International Programmes)



Show more
Show less


© Lawyers in Cyprus. All Rights Reserved. Terms & Privacy Policy |