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Cyprus
May 20, 2019
Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist Opinion

I must defend our former central bank governor

By Loucas Charalambous
I DISAGREE with the scurrilous campaign unleashed by Politis against the former governor of the Central Bank Christodoulos Christodoulou in relation to the supposedly suspicious depositing of one million euro in the account of a family company in Athens, by a friend and associate of Andreas Vgenopoulos, the shipowner Michalis Zolotas.
The amount was deposited a few months after the end of Christodoulou’s term as governor and was transferred to a Cypriot bank account, two years later. I am no friend of Christodoulou, and hopefully God will forgive me for the critical articles I wrote about him in the past, but I cannot tolerate this unfair attack on the man, whom I feel obliged to defend.
Politis editor Sotiris Baroutis keeps posing seven questions about the case and demands answers. But because Christodoulou has no time to bother with Baroutis’ questions I will try to answer on his behalf. Baroutis asked, for instance, whether the company, owned by Christodoulou’s daughter at the time of the payment, A.C. Christodoulou Consultants Ltd had any other clients apart from Vgenopoulos’ associate. The answer is ‘no’. Christodoulou was happy with just one client, as he was not greedy.
He also asked whether the company paid any income tax or VAT. I do not know the answer to this. What I do know is that if by some mistake or negligence by the company’s accountant taxes were not paid, Christodoulou, a law-abiding citizen, would be more than happy to pay them today, plus the interest due.
Another question was why Christodoulou was the beneficiary of the account of the company (all the shares of which belonged to his daughter) at the time the million euros landed in the account. There is nothing suspect about this, as it is perfectly normal for the daughter to have complete trust in her daddy and allow him to manage the company’s bank account.
I am also puzzled as to why the whole issue has been raised now as MOKAS (the unit that investigates money laundering) did not consider there was a problem. Its head Eva Papakyriakou was notified in writing about the allegations, by the Greek authorities on May 2, 2012. For 13 months, she did not consider it necessary to ask for a statement from Christodoulou and did not even bother to inform him about the matter. In short, she considered the information to be utter nonsense.
There is also the distinguished past service to the country by Christodoulou which should have spared him these malicious accusations. Christodoulou was, as he had revealed, deputy chief of staff of the Akritas organisation in 1963. The secret leader of the organisation, as Christodoulou revealed in a 2008 interview with Simerini, was the late Archbishop Makarios. If he was a dishonest man, would a leader of Makarios’ moral standing have made him deputy chief of staff?
After all, Christodoulou’s intelligence was always put at the service of the country. For instance on May 22, 2000, as interior minister in the Clerides government, he revealed how he had thwarted a satanic scheme, by the late Rauf Denktash to send to the Republic 1,500 gypsies that were living in the north.
He explained that he had stopped the gypsy invasion, by sending word to them that if they crossed south they would not be put up in hotel rooms and he would force them to work. This was how he saved the country from the gypsies among whom, according to his ministerial colleague Nicos Koshis, there were Turkish secret agents.
Christodoulou is the last person in the world that could be accused of money-grabbing. He was never interested in money and everyone knows how much money he gave to the poor, when he was a minister. This generosity and altruism earned him the nickname ‘Mother Teresa’. I still remember how in February 2000 he distributed cheques to the poor of Zygi – with camera crews from all the TV stations covering the event – after a storm had caused extensive damage to the village. Someone who helps the poor so generously could not possibly be a crook.
And we should not forget that Christodoulou also saved us from the Annan plan, proving that he was a true patriot as well. He had warned in April 2004 that with the approval of the plan “there would be serious, substantial and functional problems, with unfavourable consequences for our banking system and economy”.
Then there was the praise lavished on him by former president Glafcos Clerides, whose judgment of people was always impeccable. On the day he announced Christodoulou’s appointment as governor of the Central Bank, he said that the main reason for choosing him was “the man’s honesty”. A man whose honesty had Clerides’ approval should never have become the target of mudslingers.

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