By George Psyllides
AUTHORITIES are looking to hire experts to help with the investigation into the causes of the island’s economic collapse, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Monday.
Speaking after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, Clerides said the experts will most likely be foreign.
Clerides said the experts, who must have experience in investigating such cases, will guide police in their probe of the causes that led to the collapse of the banking system.
“Investigations continue at a fast pace,” Clerides told reporters. “However, investigators judged that specialised assistance was needed, which we are also trying to secure quickly.”
Clerides said Anastasiades gave them his full backing and pledged to provide all necessary funds.
“Our request was fully accepted by the president,” Clerides said.
A three-member committee recently concluded its probe into the economic debacle but has not looked into possible criminal offences that led to the collapse of the banking system.
The committee of former judges said former president Demetris Christofias was the main culprit for bringing the country to the brink of economic collapse.
Christofias had ignored technocrats who had recommended more balanced budgets in favour of increasing expenses, the panel said.
The criminal investigation will span the years 2006 to 2013, covering the transfer of capital from Laiki Bank to Greece, dodgy loans, the issuing of securities by both Laiki and Bank of Cyprus (BoC), and banks’ activities abroad, such as BoC’s acquisition of Uniastrum and Banca Transilvania.
Cyprus agreed to a 10 billion euro aid package from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union in March after its two major banks were all but decimated by their heavy exposure to debt-crippled Greece.
For the first time in the history of the eurozone’s debt crisis, bank depositors were forced to shoulder the burden of recapitalising lenders.
Bailout money from lenders is mainly geared towards fiscal needs of the island, slumped in a deep recession.