Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: No shortage of monumentally stupid ideas

NOW WHO NEEDS A HAIRCUT? With losses of 2.2 billion another haircut might be on the cards for the BoC. But before the depositors it should be applied to the bank’s chairman Christis Hasapis so he could look a bit more like a banker. IMF boss Christine Lagarde could also do with one as her new hair-style makes her look like one of those elderly, female environmentalists with hairy armpits

By Patroclos

IF I WERE an accountant, apart from having a lot more money in the bank than I have now, I would have also understood the significance of the 2012 losses announced by our dear old Bank of Cyprus on Friday. But I am not therefore all I can say very authoritatively about a loss of €2.2 billion is oh shit.

What I can say, not authoritatively, is that the amount seems pretty massive (‘mammoth losses’ was the description by two TV stations) and will have shattered not only the Pancyprian record for company losses, but also all confidence in the future of the bank, among all us, non-accountants, who think of the supermarket when we hear about provisions.

Could a bank with losses of €2.2bn ever recover? And what would be the results of 2013, when the losses of Laiki would be added to those of the BoC? Would the revenue from the hair-cut of its depositors improve the profit and loss account or would the forced marriage with the bankrupt Laiki boost losses by a few more billions?

The only thing I am really looking forward to is to see the face of our establishment’s bank manager at the BoC when he advises that we put our business in order, because its 10 grand loss for 2012 was too high. I will tell him, “sorry for being rude, but losses of 2.2 billion disqualify you and your company from telling any business how it should be run.” If another hair-cut is required next year, they should start with the BoC chairman Christis Hasapis.


THERE were big disagreements at Thursday’s BoC board meeting that was supposed to approve the results for 2012. This explains why it lasted more than 13 hours, from 9am to 10.30pm, directors leaving the board-room only for nature’s calls and a smoke.

After much bickering, a decision was eventually reached by Friday lunchtime. Some blamed the big delay in reaching a decision on the union-backed chairman, Hasapis’ failure to assert his authority at the board meeting, which was attended by all the Russian directors and their translator.

You would not expect a long-haired academic, whose knowledge of banking, assuming he has some, was obtained from text-books to have the authority to control, let alone lead, a board of party appointees, know-it-all businessmen and tough, unsmiling Russians eager to recover their lost zillions.

Chairman Christis looks like he would be much more comfortable talking about his favourite rock guitarists in a hippy commune than about NPLs and accrued losses in a stuffy board-room full of suits and ties. Of course appearances often deceive and Hasapis could in fact be a post-modern banker, like his mentor, the ETYK boss.


THERE is no way the appearance of the BoC vice-chairman Vladimir Strzhalkovskiy would deceive anyone. He looks like a no-nonsense, hard-nosed businessman accustomed to getting his way and I bet he is exactly that.

Strzhalkovskiy has already made it clear, according to our agents, that he was determined to pursue the split of the BoC into a good bank and a bad bank, with the latter having the responsibility of selling off the collateral held as security for NPLs.

This plan, championed by Professor Panicos since last year, if implemented would be the funereal rites for some of our biggest developers like Leptos and Aristo who owe the bank hundreds of millions and have not been able to repay the interest on their loans for a couple of years. The Shacolas Group, probably the island’s biggest employer, is also under the bank’s microscope because of its excessive borrowing.

The bad news for the businesses with the mammoth loans is that the government has already been informed of the split and seems resigned to accept it. Developers will now pin all their hopes of saving their businesses on the wily DISY chief Averof Neophytou who has been stridently opposed to the bank’s split.

The outcome will give a good indication of how much power Averof actually wields in our bankrupt republic. He could decide not to get involved because acting as the defender of the interests of greedy, big developers will not exactly boost his popularity, and he is smart enough to know this.


AFTER the all-out offensive against the police, the government, the justice system and the Attorney-General, for the remand of two gallant members of the Central Committee as suspects in CyTA land scandal, the cunning commies of AKEL decided to employ a more sophisticated attack strategy – blackmail.

Party boss Andros launched the new strategy, claiming that he possessed evidence of a ‘stitch-up’ against AKEL’s members, which he would present if the case against his innocent comrades was pursued (all Akelites enjoy a priori innocence). If the case was dropped he would not bother presenting the evidence of the ‘stitch-up’, as the blackmail would have worked.

Andros said: “We will let it happen (the stitch-up) and when it happens we will document the fact that this thing is the result of a stitch-up for which we have evidence. If the fabricated testimony is prevented, then there would be absolutely no problem.”

Why has the AG not charged the commie blackmailer with blackmail and an attempt to pervert the course of justice? The cops should have taken him in for questioning, regardless, as he had evidence about the committing of a crime which, as a leading, law- abiding citizen, he should have immediately reported to the police, instead of using it as an instrument of blackmail.


ANDROS resorted to a subtler form of blackmail as well, when he lamented the fact that the CyTA scandal was distracting our wise politicians from more serious problems such as the Cyprob and the economy.

“Collective action and unity is needed to handle these issues,” he said and wondered how these could be pursued “with the climate being cultivated lately.” In plain words, the cover-up of commie corruption would bring unity.

Member of the Central Committee Yiannakis Colocassides was a bit cruder than his illustrious leader in his intimidation technique. He said: “Better for the beast not to awake, because once the people awake, once AKEL rises nobody would stand in its way; they should bear this in mind.”

Colacassides was not aware that the beast has been significantly weakened recently and can no longer spread fear and terror. The latest opinion poll showed the beast’s share of the vote down to a meagre 15 per cent (it was about 26 per cent for years) and Andros having the lowest approval rating of all the party leaders – a piss-poor 30 per cent.

I almost interpreted the poll results as a sign of some intelligence out there, but changed my mind when I saw that Perdikis had the highest approval rating.


STALINIST methods were also adopted by AKEL to frighten witnesses. Apart from the party’s character assassination of key witness in the CyTA scandal, Mimis Fantousis, who had pending arrest warrants against him for unpaid debts, AKEL-sympathising cops visited his house and intimidated his young wife.

Five police motor-bikes and two patrol cars waited for her outside her house and after an inspection of her licence and car documents a tow-away truck was called to take her car to the police station because its insurance was expired. The Tof-appointed, Akelite deputy chief of police was quick to deny that he had ordered the cops to investigate the Fantousis’ car insurance crime.

Our cops might turn a blind eye to blackmail, intimidation of witnesses, concealment of information about crime, but when it comes to not having car insurance, quite rightly, they show zero-tolerance.


REACTIONARY DISY deputy Andreas Themistocleous also fell foul of the comrades, after jokingly tweeting that ‘soon the central committee will meet in the Central Prisons’. An investigation by AKEL’s Stasi department unearthed some damning information about the deputy’s personal finances which was published in Monday’s Haravghi.

Themistocelous owed the Krasochoria co-op, some 200 grand which he had failed to re-pay despite the full amount being due, the paper said, quoting from an internal audit report of the co-op. But why was AKEL outraged. Surely this was another example of a co-op showing its human face and anthropocentric ideology, not taking legal measures against a cash-strapped customer in financial trouble.

Themistocleous, unluckily, does not belong to a party that orders state contractors to give backhanders to its members to help them settle their debts to banks and co-ops.


PLEASE bear with me as I exercise some well-deserved bragging rights. It was our establishment that first reported that contractor Miltiades Neophytou was considering taking legal action against his big buddy comrade Tof for non-payment of construction work done to his two homes.

The story was confirmed last Wednesday, prompting the comrade with the ample behind to respond with incoherent rants on TV and radio and instructing his accountant to issue a statement about his finances. Miltiades was demanding in excess of 600 grand, an amount Tof hotly disputes.

His defence as told to Astra Radio was: “The man (Neophytou) persistently refused to take any money. For two years we were imploring him to accept money but he would not take it. By force we gave him €270,000… Until recently I did not know how much he had charged us in total… the man never gave us a quotation…

“I told him that we needed to carry out a valuation, because it was as if we built a palace. And it’s an ordinary house. True, a nice house… but 1.2 million for two storeys.”

Surely, the banks are to blame for the latest cock-up by the comrade, but at least this time he will not leave the tab to us.


OUR ESTABLISHMENT argued, when the investigative committee for the economy was set up, that this was a pointless exercise, because it was blatantly obvious who was to blame for the collapse. On Monday the chairman of the geriatric committee Giorgos Pikis stated the bleeding obvious.

The geriatrics’ findings however came under severe criticism by former rector of the Cyprus University Professor Stavros Zenios, who released a statement describing the report as “too simplistic.” Zenios the only member of the committee’s support staff who demanded payment for his work, had a nerve to be so scathing, considering he missed most of the committee’s sessions.

He was abroad from July 21 to the end of August, when the committee did most of its work. Zenios spent much of this time holidaying in the Caribbean, instead of helping poor Pikis make his report less simplistic.


EARLIER this week two female luvvies of the rapprochement mob gave a joint recital somewhere in Kyrenia, with the Greek Cypriot singing accompanied by the Turkish Cypriot. But the big surprise was that one of the guests at the event was the Bishop of Kyrenia, Chrysostomos in full regalia.

Apparently he is the cousin of the GC chanteuse, something that is unlikely to be accepted as mitigation by the Archbishop when he hears about this unpatriotic act and demands an explanation from the young bishop who has a Facebook page boasting 579 ‘likes’.

What an improvement on his miserable, dour, unlikeable, fundamentalist predecessor Pavlos (I know we should not speak ill of the dead, but in this case it is merited) who had decreed that those voting for the A-plan would go to hell.


THERE has never been a shortage of monumentally stupid ideas for helping the economy and I am not referring to the politicians’ demand for money that does not exist to be spent on development projects.

The mayor of Ayia Napa, Yiannis Karousos has proposed that in order to liberalise flights to Cyprus from St Petersburg and Moscow, the Cyprus government should guarantee the profits of Aeroflot so that the Russian government could be persuaded to implement and open skies policy. This would boost tourist arrivals from Russia by 300,000 per year said Karousos.


THE MAYOR’S proposal is only marginally more stupid than the one suggested by developer Leptos on CyBC radio after his visit to Kuwait, as part of Prez Nik’s entourage. Leptos said Kuwaitis showed a great interest in buying holiday homes in Kyproulla, but direct flights were necessary.

In the good old days, Cyprus Airways would have obliged and after a few months of losses of a few millions it would have scrapped the direct flights as unviable. Now there is a better way of doing this. We could follow the advice of the Ayia Napa mayor and guarantee the profits of Kuwait Airways to fly to Larnaca twice a week.




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