By George Christou
President Nicos Anastasiades said he was looking into going to the Supreme Court to get rid of the Central Bank (CBC) governor whom he accused of being inadequate and spending more time abroad than doing his job in Cyprus.
Speaking on private Mega television on Wednesday night, Anastasiades said he was putting together evidence showing Panicos Demetriades’ weakness or lack of competence.
“I am investigating and documenting all the things that make up the weakness or the inadequacy in the performance of his duties and accordingly, in line with the constitution, I will decide the prospect of referral to the highest legal council,” Anastasiades said.
Relations between the president and Demetriades have been strained, but took a turn for the worse in the last week, as a result of the latter’s delay in approving the new directors of the Bank of Cyprus who were elected at the AGM of September 10.
The Governor has come under criticism also from the political parties and business organisations for his prevarication over the evaluation of the new directors.
The Central Bank had still not completed the ‘fitness and probity’ evaluation of six directors, even though as a member of the resolution authority it had given its approval to all of them.
Anastasiades said he was running out of patience with Demetriades.
“This cannot go on,” the president said.
Responding to the interviewer’s suggestion that Demetriades may have been giving a demonstration of his powers, the president said bluntly: “The economy’s and the country’s needs will not depend on the whims of anyone. We are not student organisations that play games.”
“The Governor should have evaluated all of the candidates who had put forward their names to be members of the board ahead of the AGM. Despite having promised the resolution authority that this would happen before the AGM, I established that on the day of the AGM he (Demetriades) was not ready yet.”
Anastasiades was so concerned that he called Demetriades and “advised him to be careful because we had already suffered a number of delays and it would be unthinkable that any of those elected to the board of directors would depend on what he decided.”
He added: “I told him you will cause an uproar and more uncertainty and instability within a bank which is expecting to have a new board of directors. Ten days on and there is still no final decision regarding the board of directors.”
He also had a dig at Demetriades tendency to spend much of his time abroad.
“Someone who holds such an important position will not be allowed to spend such long periods abroad instead of carrying out his duties,” he said.
The CBC responded late on Wednesday night, accusing Anastasiades of trying to undermine the independence of the governor.
The regulator rejected the claim that Demetriades was abroad all the time and did not do his job.
The governor’s frequent presence at the European decision-making centres, especially Frankfurt, did not include holidays, a CBC statement said, but was necessary in a bid to influence decisions in favour of Cyprus.
The regulator added that the evaluation of the members of the newly-elected board was being carried out carefully, based on the criteria set by the European Banking Authority “to protect the credibility of the BoC and avoid past mistakes.”