Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

It’s depressingly clear why corruption is greeted with silence

Former co-op boss Erotokritos-Chlorakiotis

By Loucas Charalambous
ONE BIG question arises from all the daily revelations about corruption and moral decay: how many of us are corrupt in this cursed country? I fear it is possible, in the end, we would establish that the corrupt, the thieves and the crooks make up the majority of the ‘wonderful Cypriot people’.
Under the circumstances, I find the suggestion by a lawyer friend, for separating the thieves from the non-thieves, both logical and practical. He said we should all be locked up in a big open prison and then each person would have to prove that he or she had not stolen in order to be released.
The rate at which scandals, acts of corruption, fraud, illegalities and other sharp practices are being uncovered is staggering. Meanwhile, our politicians, immersed – deeper than anyone – in vested interests and corruption, are keeping quiet and covering up for each other.
At the committee investigating the dubious purchase by CyTA of a piece of land belonging to a Turkish Cypriot, very serious allegations were made against AKEL officials and the Christofias government, but the reaction was muted. The other parties made some vague statements the following day, to maintain pretences, while AKEL members denied everything claiming the accusations were aimed at harming their party. After the routine reactions, everything was forgotten.
The next time, when the allegations concern members of DISY, DIKO or EDEK, the members of AKEL will also turn a blind eye. The solidarity shown for each other by the members of our political cesspools is impressive. Our politicians operate along the lines of the mafia in the US. In the US they had mafia families, while here we have DIKO, AKEL, DISY, EDEK and others.
Meanwhile, President Anastasiades met the officials who were responsible for creating the €1.5 billion hole in the co-ops (by comparison much bigger than that of the banks) this week, and promised to give them back the shares and control of the co-ops so they can continue their mismanagement.
They left the presidential palace with smiles on their faces, including the big boss of co-ops for the last 30 years, Erotokritos Chlorakiotis, who should now have been in the dock for arranging, according to a former Central Bank governor, loans worth €10.9 million from SPE Strovolos for his family company. Instead of sitting in the dock, he was sitting in the presidential palace conferring with the president.
Last Sunday Kathimerini revealed something even more incredible. In 2012, companies belonging to the developers Aristo Developers (owned by the former chairman of the Bank of Cyprus) and Leptos took from the bankrupt Bank of Cyprus loans worth €362 million. Very strange considering that neither company had paid the interest on their existing loans for close to four years.
In a state with the rule of law, within hours of such accusations being reported, the police would have remanded in custody those connected with the crime, possibly all the members of the bank’s board. But nobody said a word. There was not one announcement from the political parties, which are normally so quick to express their opinions on the most trivial of issues.
But how could the parties take a stand when they were also the beneficiaries of the banks mismanagement, taking millions in loans without providing any real collateral. How could AKEL react when its companies had debts of millions written off by the banks?
How could the DISY chief Averof Neophytou react now that he has become the big protector of the bankrupt developers and is busy lambasting the idea of the banks selling off the collateral of the developers – who led the banks to bankruptcy – on the grounds that this would be “a blow to the construction industry”?
So how many of us are thieves and crooks in this country? Can we find a figure? Or would it be easier to arrive at a figure by first counting the non-thieves, apparently the minority, and subtracting that number from the total? This is probably the easier and more practical way of doing it.

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