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Cyprus' election front-runner, government reject private firm for money laundering probe

Cypriot authorities are against letting a private firm audit its banks to dispel money laundering allegations.

Cyprus is seeking an international rescue for its ailing economy and banks which have been criticized — particularly in Germany — for failing to halt money laundering by Russian clients. Eurozone finance ministers this week said a private firm would be dispatched to assess Cypriot banks.

But a spokesman for presidential election front-runner Nicos Anastasiades says the audit must be handled by a European or international body, not a private company. Thursday's statement by Tassos Mitsopoulos comes a day after the outgoing government also ruled out an audit by a private firm.

Cypriot authorities claim an audit by a private company would go against Cypriot and European law.