Cyprus, one of the world’s biggest ship-management hubs, has unveiled a scheme to facilitate wage payments to crews afflicted by the war in Ukraine.

“As more Russian banks are blocked from international transactions, crewing managers are increasingly unable to make payments,” Cyprus’ deputy shipping ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.

“Ukrainian seafarers and their families seeking safety in other states are also unable to access wage payments,” it added.

Crew members from these two nations account for 14.5% of seafarers worldwide. To help those employed on vessels flying the Cyprus flag, the island republic’s government teamed up with local banks and e-banking service providers to open bank accounts.

“We … believe shipowners and crew managers require an effective solution from flag states to a challenge that many will be facing,” the ministry’s deputy head Vassilios Demetriades said.

According to a government circular dated 14 April, the scheme is supported by commercial lenders Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic Bank and Eurobank.

An alternative scheme is offered by providers ECOMMBX and Sepaga.

On condition

There are some strings attached.

Individuals opening accounts will be screened to make sure the scheme does not fall foul of anti-Russia sanctions and money-laundering laws.

“It is noted that for all such accounts, limits on the pay-in and pay-out usage of the account will be imposed, and at the outset, the account will only be able to be topped up by the seafarer’s compensation,” according to the directive.

Beneficiaries must also provide copies of passports and proof of address.

“During the first 6 months after onboarding, the financial institution may request to hold a virtual meeting with the client, based on the onboarding due diligence framework of that institution,” the directive said.