Cyprus Mail

‘No intention of a cover-up’

Committee member Irini Charalambidou

By Angelos Anastasiades
THE House Ethics committee will name names in its final report on the collapse of the economy on three provisions, chairman Demetris Syllouris said on Tuesday, before he revealed new instances of banking malpractice running in millions of euro.
Syllouris made headlines last week as the committee’s interim report had included incidents of public officials’ loans written off by banks but fell short of providing names for fear of “smearing people who may have done nothing reprehensible”.
In comments on Tuesday, Syllouris said that names would be included in the report if by doing so it would not help them escape court proceedings, but not if their names have been made public in the past with no evidence backing any allegation of wrongdoing. Lastly, he said, the names of those who are not subject to criminal proceedings but whose role in the economic meltdown may be ethically questionable will be released.
“Despite the noise made by some, there is no intention of a cover-up,” Syllouris said.
According to its chairman, the committee aims to offer unanimous opinions in its report, but where disagreements exist, dissenting views will be recorded. The committee will convene on Monday to record all parties’ views on the draft text and add new chapters so that the final report can be presented to the House plenum on April 28.
Committee members expressed the view that all names should be included in the report.
“In any instance, we support transparency,” said DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou. “Loans granted with preferential terms do not necessarily imply illegality, but transparency will allow the public to determine whether the ethics standard has been met.”
AKEL committee member Aristos Damianou distinguished between ethical issues, bad corporate governance in the Central Bank of Cyprus and commercial banks, and issues of criminal offences.
“We will try to strike a balance between the need for transparency and the need to avoid offering any suspects of criminal wrongdoing an escape route through the report,” he said. “But we feel that most, if not all, of the names must be included.”
EDEK’s Fidias Sarikas also backed publicising the names in the report.
“It is inconceivable to prepare a report that does not include the names of politicians, politically exposed persons and bankers,” he said.
Meanwhile, evidence from the now-defunct Laiki Bank indicating the “confidential write-off” of a €29 million loan to Delta – a Marfin Investment Group subsidiary – was presented in Tuesday’s session.
Syllouris referred to Laiki’s 2011 financials that did not include lending of €113 million to a group, which he claimed may have been omitted to avoid scrutiny by any loan approval authority.
AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou alluded to a “written analysis from the Central Bank listing [Piraeus Bank chairman] Michalis Sallas’ €117 million loans from Laiki, with €27 more million loaned out to another Piraeus Bank official.” However, she noted that these loans were sold to Piraeus as part of the sale of Cyprus banks’ Greek operations.
“All these ‘red-hot’ loans that could serve as evidence against specific people for corruption and other offences were moved, intentionally in my view, to Piraeus bank, so that the loans’ history cannot be accessed,” she said.

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