Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

The level of our political life is down in the sewer

By Loucas Charalambous

THERE has been one good thing to come out of the economic crisis. In their effort to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the bankruptcy of the country, the scoundrels of politics and banking have become engaged in a row that has released some of the stench of corruption that has marked the activities of our political and business establishment all these years.

The extent of the decay may surprise those who did not know or did not believe there was such corruption in our country. Even some of us who knew a few things could be surprised by the extent of the corruption and rottenness that have transformed this state into a sewer. A look at some of the cases in the news reveals the depth of the crisis in this bad imitation of a state.

Take for instance the payment of €1 million into the account of the family company of the former minister and former Governor of the Central Bank Christodoulos Christodoulou by an associate and friend of Andreas Vgenopoulos, Laiki Bank’s big boss.

The important thing here is not Christodoulou’s guilt or innocence, which is not for the column to decide. What really shouts out is the provocative handling of the matter by the officials of the state. For 13 months the Attorney-General and the lady in charge of MOKAS, the anti-money laundering unit, had the letter from Laiki containing the information and said nothing.

Even Christodoulou was not aware of its existence and was only informed about these serious allegations from a report published by Politis. Not only did they avoid ordering an investigation but they also failed to call him to inform him. Are these the people whom we expect to carry out the clean-up? But they are part of the problem.

We should also mention here the inspired idea of President Anastasiades to propose Christodoulou for the position of CEO of the Bank of Cyprus. This was also an indication of the seriousness of this state, a crazy state in which anything is possible.

In the last couple of weeks we had the request of the Greek authorities for the extradition of the former minister and member of DIKO, Dinos Michaelides and his son, in connection with a case of briberies from the sale of arms, worth millions. When the request was made, we established that the execution of the European Arrest Warrant against them was very difficult.

The reason – when the constitution was amended in 2005 DISY and DIKO deputies barred the extradition of suspects connected to offences committed before 2004, because they wanted to protect specific party members.

Of course the corruption and vested interests of Cyprus are above-party, even though AKEL set up a big fiesta in the years it was running the country. The allegations made by the Liotati couple in the statement it gave to the committee investigating the purchase of land in Larnaca, belonging to a Turkish Cypriot, by CyTA, was another example of the dirty deals sponsored by the then ruling party.

Should I also mention the accusations made at the investigative committee for the economy by former Bank of Cyprus executive Nicholas Karydas last Wednesday? Karydas spoke about the scandalous interference by Demetris Christofias and AKEL chief Andros Kyprianou who called the bank to secure more favourable terms for loans of Omonia and its paymaster, contractor Miltiades Neophytou. He also spoke about the recruitment of Kyprianou’s wife at a Bank of Cyprus foundation.

Kyprianou’s response to Karydas’ allegations was representative of the sewer of our political life. He said: “I am doubly saddened because we have relegated the political life of the country to the level of gossip of a neighbourhood coffee shop.”

I think we would all be doubly happy if the level of our political life was that of neighbourhood coffee shop. In a neighbourhood coffee shop there is more seriousness and no dirt. The level of our political life is down in the sewer. That is why we are suffocating from the stench of the incredible achievements of Kyprianou and the rest of the political pygmies.

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