Cyprus Mail

House to decide on full disclosure in econ probe

By George Psyllides

THE HOUSE Ethics Committee will decide on Tuesday whether to publish a full list of names in its report into the collapse of the economy, chairman Demetris Syllouris said on Wednesday, as he officially made public the names of three current and former MPs who had supposedly received favourable treatment from banks.

The names he published were DISY MP Prodromos Prodromou, and former lawmakers Sofocles Hadjiyiannis, also DISY, and Aristofanis Georgiou of AKEL.

All three, whose names had also surfaced last year, provided explanations as to why they were on the documents provided by banks to the committee, which probed the causes of the economic collapse.

As did two others – former president George Vassiliou and former DISY MP Andreas Georgiou – whose names were published by Green party MP George Perdikis on his Facebook wall.

“It would be frivolous (and) unfair if I aired all the names we were sent, without the committee giving its opinion first, and without examining each case separately because there are a lot, which have a reasonable excuse,” Syllouris said.

Bank employees, for instance, received low interest rate loans as part of their collective agreements.

Syllouris said the names, understood to be in the thousands, concerned various issues, including loans being written off or having favourable interest rates, and cash transfers abroad while restrictions were in place.

“The conclusion is that we do not have all the data and a special probe must be ordered,” he said.

Syllouris said he chose to publish the names of people who had provided explanations, unlike Perdikis who said the people he named had been included in the draft report.

“I will not maintain George Perdikis’ approach and let society judge who wants to be serious and who wants to create impressions,” Syllouris said.

Once again Prodromou denied ever having a loan written off, saying the case in question concerned a forgery on his bank account.

The person responsible for the forgery was brought before court and convicted, Prodromou said, and the bank recognised part of the responsibility for the charges through forgery and agreed to share the loss.

Georgiou’s case concerned dues of around €39,000, which were allegedly written off.

The former AKEL MP, who is a lawyer, said the allegation was unfounded and false, adding that the money was owed by a company represented by his law office.

The debt, including interest, was settled on February 10, 2010, following a court ruling, Georgiou said.

Hadjiyiannis said his case concerned settling a debt after striking a deal with the bank to deduct interest rate and charges that had been added on illegally.

He said the case was headed to court when the compromise was achieved.

Former president George Vassiliou’s name was published by Perdikis.

Vassiliou’s name also emerged last year in connection with being the majority shareholder in a company, which had $5.8 million written off.

Vassiliou said his stake in the company, which was operated by his former son-in-law, was acquired after he provided guarantees against its large obligations.

The company, ERE (Middle East) Ltd owed Laiki $23,988,542 and €1,081,672, including interest, the former president said last year.

The amounts had also been guaranteed by four other people who eventually refused to honour their obligations and were taken to court.

Vassiliou said that despite his share being much smaller, he agreed to pay Laiki $21 million – in instalments – and settle the debt.

In return, Laiki was to relieve him of the old interest, something that is a usual and long-standing practice, he said.

Former DISY MP Andreas Georgiou, who was named by Perdikis, rejected suggestions he had received any preferential treatment.

He said he repaid his loan in 2007, 11 years after he left parliament, and it had nothing to do with him being a MP.

Georgiou said the bank had been charging him a rate of 14.5 per cent whereas a court decision provided for 9.0 per cent.

“The bank recognised its mistake and rectified it,” he said, but did not correct its books, presenting it as preferential treatment.

Georgiou warned Perdikis not to refer to his name again, reserving all his legal rights.

He accused the Green party MP of seeking to create noise for personal and public relations reasons.

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