By George Psyllides
Parliament on Tuesday postponed discussion of FBME Bank, placed under Central Bank (CBC) administration following money laundering allegations, after the attorney-general and the head of the anti-money laundering unit failed to show up.
The matter was scheduled to be discussed by the House Ethics Committee whose acting chairman, Demetris Syllouris, criticised the two officials.
It was the second time Attorney-general Costas Clerides was a no-show for discussion of the matter.
In February, Clerides appealed to the members of the committee to refrain from discussing FBME at this time.
In a letter to the committee, he said it would be against the public interest and would cause problems to ongoing legal procedures.
Syllouris rejected the reasons given by Clerides and suggested his motives were different.
He said it was either an effort to prevent parliament from looking into the affair or, fearing a possible failure, they wanted to put the blame on the House.
“Based on this we decided to prepare a written and confidential questionnaire, which we will send to the attorney-general,” he said. The committee will decide on how to handle the matter based on the response, Syllouris added.
The CBC took over the Cyprus branch of the Tanzania-based bank last year, placed its operations under resolution and embarked on finding a buyer after the US Department of the Treasury named FBME as “a financial institution of primary money laundering concern”.
To date, FBME shareholders deny the allegations and have resorted to the arbitration court to have the liquidation and resolution orders lifted.
AKEL MP Aristos Damianou said his party had tabled the issue for discussion in October last year and so far there have been four or five attempts but to no avail.
The officials’ refusal to attend prevented parliament from exercising its authority, he said.
He rejected the suggestion that discussion in parliament would jeopardise the case.