Chara Chatzichristodoulou, Cyprus

To Limassol in Cyprus today at the eastern end of the Mediterranean for our latest Sovereign Story. Chara Chatzichristodoulou is Legal and AML Compliance Officer in Sovereign’s Cyprus office. We were lucky to catch up with her as she was about to commence a period of maternity leave.

Born and raised in Limassol, Chara is bilingual in Greek and English as are the majority of Cypriots. The youngest of three, she has two elder brothers. Her father was a teacher and mother a retail manager and both parents instilled in her a good work ethic from the outset. This has stood Chara in very good stead throughout her professional life. Married since 2018 to an ACCA qualified accountant, the couple are proud parents to daughter Victoria who was born the following year.

We asked Chara to explain the background to her long family name. She explained that “chatzi” is an honorific and we later learned that historically it denoted a person who had visited the Holy Land. Whilst on the subject of names she smiled as she added “… and please don’t pronounce my given name “Cha-Ra”. Most foreigners do; I put up with it of course but really, you should say “Ha-Ra” –the word means “Joy”. Duly informed, we moved on.

Chara tells us, proudly, that she is “100% Cypriot”. Apart from six years studying in Greece and England, she has lived her whole life in and around Limassol, which is Cyprus’ second city with a metropolitan population exceeding 250,000. The district attracts both tourists in their hundreds of thousands annually, as well as a diverse range of business from all over the world.

After leaving school, Chara studied for her LL.B. law degree at The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, which is the largest in Greece. She moved to the University of Surrey to obtain her LL.M. degree in European Law. During her time in the UK, she lived in the historic city of Guildford and was a regular visitor to other parts of England. She cites London, Plymouth and rural parts of Kent among her favourite places.

After graduating, Chara came home. She joined a local law firm as a corporate lawyer where she gained considerable practical experience, whilst also being admitteding to the Bar. She moved a couple of times before specialising in compliance. Chara became the assistant compliance officer and legal advisor to one of Cyprus’ leading audit firms in 2016. Eventually, in June 2021, she joined Sovereign as Legal & AML Compliance Officer, a role she continues to enjoy to this day.

In Cyprus, it is obligatory to submit all corporate documentation in Greek. A challenging language for most foreign-born residents to dominate, one of Chara’s key roles is to ensure that translated paperwork is always accurate before submission to the relevant government department. Chara points out that no less than three separate regulators monitor business in the country. Thus, there is always plenty to keep her busy.

As AML Compliance Officer, Chara liaises with business development and client relationship colleagues worldwide whilst her legal work involves dealing with clients directly. She enjoys both aspects and says she would like to visit other Sovereign offices some day. Introductions come from all over the network but especially from Sovereign’s South Africa and Portugal offices.

As university was the only time she has lived away from Limassol, Chara and her husband had planned to travel further. However, after Victoria was born (and now four years later her sibling is due), these plans have been put on hold for the time being.

Not that Cyprus is short of wonderful places to go, Chara adds quickly. The island is surprisingly large and offers a diverse range of activities and experiences. The family are regular visitors to the country’s capital Nicosia and the spectacular Troodos Mountains. They live just five minutes from the seafront and enjoy taking advantage of the Mediterranean.

Outside work and family commitments, during Chara’s scarce “her” time, she enjoys dancing having taken up ballet many years ago. She is also an accomplished cook although by no means is she limited to Cypriot cuisine. A skilled jewellery maker using semi-precious stones, and keen on socialising, she enjoys gifting her creations to friends and family.

Chara has been always interested in both the local and international political and economic scenes, and likes to keep herself up-to-date. She is confident about the island nation’s future, as she says the economy is clearly expanding. The scourge of inflation is present as almost everywhere around the world but there are reasons to be optimistic. Stability is important and she is sure this is why newcomers from all over Europe and further afield consider Cyprus as a desirable place in which to live and invest.

It was a real pleasure getting to know Chara and learning about her life in Cyprus. We are very grateful to her for sparing the time to relate her story. We send our very best wishes to the whole family, as her new baby is welcomed into the world.

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