Cyprus Mail

Laiki was a ‘piggy bank’

By George Psyllides

Around €52 million was paid in bonuses by Laiki Bank mainly between 2006 and 2009, lawmakers heard on Tuesday, as the lender was used like a “piggy bank” by people to ‘live the dream’.
“It was a big piggy bank that many people used, to do whatever they wanted to fulfil their dreams,” said Andri Antoniadou, the administrator handling the bank’s resolution.
Around €18 million in bonuses were paid in Cyprus – the rest were shared out in Greece.
Among those who received bonuses in Cyprus were Christos Stylianides, Panayiotis Kounnis, and Rodoulla Hadjikyriakou, who got €302,000 apiece, Miltiades Michailas. €252,000, Doros Ktorides €212,000, Annita Phillipidou €202,000, Neoclis Lysandrou, €152,000, and Solonas Matsas, €146,000.
In Greece, €33.3 million was paid in bonuses between 2007 and 2012, the committee heard.
Among the biggest recipients were Lazos Inahos, €3.3 million Kyriacos Magiras and Efthymios Bouloutas, €1.8 million each, Eraclis Kounadis, €1.7 million, Nicolaos Kontaroudis €1.6 million, and David Samuel, €800,000.
The names were read before the committee from a list with more people, which has not been made public.
The big bonuses were paid between 2006 and 2009, the committee heard.
In 2011, the bank gave bonuses worth €1.1 million in the form of shares but the €223,000 in taxes were paid by Laiki and not the recipients, the House Ethics Committee heard.
The problems started with the arrival of Greek businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos in 2006.
After taking control of the bank, Vgenopoulos gave all employees a €2,000 bonus.
Many people in Cyprus consider the former Laiki strongman responsible for the collapse of the banking system.
Antoniadou said the people that took over the lender’s administration where not bankers and they followed unorthodox practices.
No one protected the shareholders, the staff, or the depositors, she said.
Former human resources director Polys Votsis said oftentimes the instructions they were given were verbal so that nothing would exist in writing.
“Many times we sent emails that are recorded on the bank’s hard disks, and Mr. Bouloutas’ secretary used to call us and tell us what to do,” Votsis said.
He conceded that they “didn’t have the guts” to say no because there was nothing in writing.
In response, Vgenopoulos said the committee operated as a forum of “unsubstantiated mud-slinging without any counterarguments.”
“Presumption of innocence has been turned into presumption of guilt without any evidence,” Vgenopoulos said in a statement.
Laiki is in the process of being wound down as part of the terms of the island’s €10 billion bailout.
Large depositors in that bank saw amounts exceeding €100,000 seized and what remained was merged with Bank of Cyprus.


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