Cyprus Mail
Opinion

Tales from the Coffeeshop: Can’t keep a good lolly-loving lawyer down

By Patroclos

WE COULD say a lot of unpleasant and nasty things about lawyers – we have in the past – but you have to admire their inventiveness and astounding ability to make the most out of the crappiest conditions.

For the money-loving Cypriot lawyer, in particular, anything that happens is an opportunity to make a fast buck. It may be a family tragedy, a national crisis, a political dispute, a foreign war or a scratch on a car, but you can always trust the smart Cypriot lawyer to turn it into cash.

Lawyers made millions out of the war in Yugoslavia, helping the Milosevic sanctions-busting, many cashed in on the Annan plan, filing recourses to the ECHR, others engaged in money-laundering for mega-rich Russians. Some even found a way of making a lot of bread by appealing against promotions in the civil service.

What perfectly illustrated the adaptability of Cypriot lawyer was the stock market bubble. During the bubble lawyers were making millions preparing the flotation of companies and drafting prospectuses. And when it burst they represented the thousands of investors who felt they had been cheated and unsuccessfully sued companies, to get their dosh back. Bubble or no bubble, the legal eagles were counting pounds.

Lawyers love lolly and will always find ingenious ways to make it.

 

WE MAY be in the worst recession to ever hit Kyproulla, but our lolly-loving lawyers have already thought up ways of cashing in. They will be suing the banks for the bail-in on behalf of uninsured depositors who lost their money.

Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court, to reject the appeal against the two decrees issued by the Central Bank as the Resolution Authority, was good for the legal profession as it opened the way for civil suits against the poor old Bank of Cyprus, which everyone supposedly wants to survive, and the Central Bank in district courts.

Thousands of law-suits are expected to be filed as lawyers have been giving an impressive sales pitch in the media about the chances of success, arguing that the bail-in was theft of property, violated the constitution, was a violation of human rights etc. You could see euro-signs in their eyes as they angrily slammed the injustice of the bail-in which was in violation of a host of laws.

Some even got carried away, telling potential clients that they could file recourses against the bail-in to the ECHR, something that cannot be done before all possibilities of local remedies had been exhausted, a process that could last a decade. Not that the lawyers would mind, as the charges would be running.

Anyone who could secure business for the next 10 years, in this depression, must be laughing all the way to Laiki.

 

THE BIG question is what would happen if the thousands of legal suits are successful? If the Bank of Cyprus is still operating in four or five years’ time and is faced with court rulings ordering it to pay billions back to depositors, would not bankruptcy be a certainty? It would also have to pay the depositors of Laiki as it took over its operations.

And if it is bankrupted by the claims how would it be able to pay them? More importantly, what sane person would keep their money in the B of C, knowing that the bank is facing legal claims amounting to billions? As soon as the capital controls are lifted by the Central Bank, its depositors would take their money and run.

The lawyers are not bothered if the legal action leads to a collapse of the poor old B of C as their only concern is to ensure that justice had been served and enough money was left for the legal fees to be paid.

 

A BIG Nicosia law firm has even fixed its charges for legal action against the bail-in. It will be charging each client €15,000 plus a 30 per cent success fee.

In other words, if the law firm wins the case against the hair-cut of its client’s deposits and recovers the full amount from the bank, it would then apply a 30 per cent hair-cut to the recovered amount. But this would be a lawful hair-cut that not even another lawyer could contest in a court of law.

From what we hear legal action has also been taken by a foreign bank based in Cyprus against the ECB and the European Commission. We wish this bank every success, from the bottom of our hearts.

 

COMRADE Tof was back in the news this week as the House finance committee, refused for the second time to approve the expenditure of €43,000 for his brand new car, a well-earned reward for saving CoLA and ensuring the public parasites received their 13th salaries last December.

However publicity-seeking deputies seized the opportunity to play the tough guys and kick Tof-ass, as this is guaranteed to get them a mention on the TV news. But this was just the usual parliamentary theatre, as all deputies knew the former prez was entitled to a flash car by law, which deputies had approved.

It was a bit cheap making a fuss about the village idiot’s limo, when they could have drafted a law scrapping the donation of state cars to former presidents of the Republic and the House. Dr Faustus stepped down as president of the House in 1991, but he is still driven around in a 3-litre BMW and we are still paying for its maintenance and petrol.

Marios Garoyian was House president for three years, until 2011, and we will have to provide him with a limo and pay his petrol and garage bills – not to mention the cop-chauffeur to drive it – for the rest of his life. He is only 52.

 

IT WAS disappointing that nobody – not even AKEL deputies who often engage in Tof ass-licking – thought it necessary to point out that the comrade, concerned about the state’s poor finances, had not demanded the second car he was entitled to so Elisavet could have a flash set of wheels to get around in.

He could have used one of his 15 bodyguards as her chauffeur.

As former president of House he was also entitled to a 3-litre car, but not being a greedy man, he did not make use of this right. To be fair, neither did the late, great Spy Kyp, who also served in both posts, even though I suspect his state car is still being used by his widow.

 

FIFTY-ONE state officials are entitled to cars paid for by the tax-paying mugs. They include ministry perm secs, some departmental bosses, heads of commissions and commissioners. Even our representative on the Committee for Missing Persons has a state car. The outrage is that the Commissioner for the Environment is also entitled to drive around in a petrol-guzzling car with high carbon emissions, thus contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer and setting a very bad example. We have never seen her or her super-sensitive predecessor arriving at meeting on a bicycle so we assume that they have not given up the sinful pleasure of travelling around in a powerful, ozone-destroying vehicle.

 

THE TOF ass-kicking was not restricted to the car purchase. Another House committee dealt with the ridiculous, presidential ‘solidarity fund’ the caring and compassionate comrade set up with donations from his rich, capitalist friends, in order to give cash assistance to the poor and promote himself as Kyproulla’s Mother Teresa.

It is pretty cheap, playing the philanthropist with other people’s money, but Tof always did ‘cheap’ with great style. He amassed just over half a million euro in his ‘fund’, for which no accounts were kept, and then, in fit of generosity, gave all but 30 grand to the deserving poor, in the two months before the February presidential elections.

He even gave €1,500 to the AKEL youth wing EDON, which was neither poor nor deserving, supposedly to cover the shortfall of the annual errand organised by the kid commies for poor families. Philanthropy with other people’s money, which is like going to a wife-swapping party and not taking your wife, is taught at an early age to commies.

 

ACCUSATIONS that all the money from the fund went to AKEL supporters and sympathisers were not dealt with very convincingly by the party’s propaganda machinery. However on Tuesday Haravghi had a super-scoop that would silence all Tof’s mean-spirited critics – the heart-breaking story of Jimmy Demetriou.

Jimmy, the paper reported, “could not stand the injustice and orchestrated attempt to malign the former President” and spoke out. He was quoted as saying, “I am right-wing, but I also received a cheque from the solidarity fund.”

Jimmy Demetriou, was a member of the British Conservative Party and was Mayor of Epping Forest in Essex from 1992, for two terms; he served as Tory councillor for 20 years, according to Haravghi. Jimmy, once the owner of a chain of restaurants in the UK, had fallen on hard times recently and returned to Kyproulla penniless and in poor health.

He wrote to the great philanthropist for help and received a thousand euro. “The president knew I was a right-winger but sent me a cheque for which I am grateful,” he said.

One grand out of 522,000 spent is emphatic proof that Tof helped people regardless of their political beliefs. All they had to believe in was Tof’s philanthropy, funded by generous exploiters of the workers.

 

WHEN THEY were not Tof ass-kicking, deputies engaged in Prof ass-kicking, even if they had smaller area to aim their kicks at. Showing off their talent for dealing with things when it is far too late to do anything about them, deputies decided to question the fire-sale of the Greek operations of the Cypriot banks at a super-bargain price.

They wanted explanations from Professor Panicos, who agreed to the sale, for peanuts, without securing the consent of the B of C’s board (Laiki was under resolution and did not have to give its consent). I am surprised that this dodgy transaction has not been viewed as money making opportunity by any lawyers.

As would be expected, Governor Panicos did not take part in the negotiations for the sale of the Cypriot banks, sending instead one of his minions to do the dirty work, so he was not to blame. The professor does not represent the Central Bank in important negotiations about the future of the country, as this is the safest way never to take responsibility for anything. In this respect he is Tof’s soul-mate.

 

ON THE VERY rare occasions he is forced to take responsibility, the Professor, like his soul-mate, shows an admirable talent for thinking up of excuses. His spokesperson Aliki Stylianou regularly issues announcements answering critics and arguing that her boss is blameless.

After the fire-sale was discussed at a House committee on Tuesday, Aliki issued the obligatory ‘clarification announcement’ which said, among other things, the following: “It is reminded that in the preliminary Memorandum of November 2012, there was a provision for an amount of €10 billion for the recapitalisation of the Cypriot banks. With this given, the banks were considered solvent.”

As I have been unable to find this provision in the preliminary Memorandum, I would be much obliged if Aliki could tell me where exactly it said that €10 billion was available for the Cypriot banks. I am sure it is in there, but why have I not spotted it?

 

THE COLLAPSE of the economy has not only been good for lolly-loving lawyers. I am told by a friend who runs a big insurance firm that the company’s figures have greatly improved in the first four months of this year. The reason: there are a fewer cars on the roads, fewer accidents, much fewer claims and higher profits than last year. It’s great to be able to finish on a positive note for a change even if this relates to law and insurance firms.

 

 


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