Cyprus Mail

AG: prosecutions in economy collapse within weeks

By George Psyllides

Prosecutions connected with the collapse of the economy can be expected in the coming weeks, the attorney-general said on Thursday, after a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades.

“I really believe that the time for words has ended and the time for action must start,” Costas Clerides told comment-seeking reporters.

Investigators are in the process of hiring foreign experts to help their efforts in identifying the causes of the island’s economic collapse.

Nevertheless, Clerides said, some cases were almost ready “and we hope to have tangible results within the next weeks.”

“Cases that are ready or almost ready now will be brought to court, independent of the time it would take to complete the entire investigation,” the attorney-general said.

Cyprus agreed to a €10 billion 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.

The criminal investigation will span the years 2006 to 2013, covering the transfer of capital from the now defunct Laiki Bank to Greece, dodgy loans, the issuing of securities by both Laiki and Bank of Cyprus (BoC), and banks’ activities abroad — BoC’s acquisition of Uniastrum and Banca Transilvania.

Authorities are also investigating Central Bank Governor Panicos Demetriades’ dealings with consultancy firm Alvarez & Marsal.

The investigation was launched in late October following media reports that Demetriades had agreed to pay A&M a 0.10 per cent fee on any amount needed to recapitalise the banks, including when cash was seized from depositors.

The deal was allegedly signed after the Eurogroup decided to seize depositors’ cash to recapitalise banks.

Clerides said that has nothing to do with the investigation into the collapse of the economy conditions but it was being expedited to the extent permitted by conditions.

An internal Central Bank audit, leaked to the media last year, concluded among others, that Demetriades had withheld information and agreements signed with A&M, misled the CBC board, committed millions that were not budgeted, and without the approval of the board signed an agreement to pay the consultancy a “success fee” after the fact, and awarded jobs to one company without a tender procedure.

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