By George Psyllides
THE CENTRAL Bank (CBC) governor has ordered staff to check a list provided by banks of transactions that took place during a lockdown of the banking system last year to see if it matched the approvals given by the regulator.
The list includes cash outflows between March 15 and March 27, 2013, when a ban was imposed on all banking transactions while the Eurogroup decided on the form of the Cyprus bail-in, or deposit seizure.
“This morning (Monday) CBC Governor (Chrystalla) Georghadji ordered the list sent by banks (Laiki and Bank of Cyprus) to be compared with the list of approvals given by the CBC at the time,” the regulator’s spokeswoman Aliki Stylianou said.
The list has been handed over to the House Ethics Committee, which is carrying out its own probe into the collapse of the economy.
During the lockdown, approval to transfer cash abroad had been given for government and banks, other payments of a systemic nature, humanitarian reasons, and the purchase of fuel, medicine, food, among others.
Stylianou said the CBC’s instructions at the time were that it would approve payments made by banks and not natural and legal persons.
“Banks were responsible for the implementation,” said Stylianou.
Meanwhile, opposition AKEL’s mouthpiece Haravghi newspaper, claimed over the weekend that a company linked to the law office of President Nicos Anastasiades had transferred some €22 million out of Cyprus – March 1 to March 12 – before an official decision to seize deposits, suggesting they had been warned.
Anastasiades and the law office rejected the claims, saying that the transfers were part of the company’s usual business activities.
The law office said the report focused solely on the specific transactions in what was a “malicious and deliberate” act.
It said that between April 27, 2012 and the first Eurogroup decision on March 15, 2013, the company had imported $94.2 million and transferred out some $92 million.
The office provided a detailed list of transactions to prove that the paper was serving other expediencies.
On March 1, 2013, the company brought in $8 million and made a payment abroad worth €7 million.
Six days later it imported $11 million and made two payments overseas worth $7.2 million and $2.8 million.
On March 12, the company transferred $6.5 million to Cyprus and made a payment of $5.4 million abroad the same day.
The president’s law office said $2.2 million remained in the company’s account, and was affected by the bail-in decided on March 25.
In a separate statement, Anastasiades said he was saddened over having to comment on a completely unfounded report by Haravghi yet again.
Such irresponsible claims dealt a serious blow to the effort to restore the economy, which was led to destruction by the AKEL administration he said.
Anastasiades said the law office in which he was a shareholder until March 1, 2013 (when he took office) provided explanations that spoke for themselves.
“I agree there should be transparency and any data concerning financial activities of individuals and companies directly linked to political figures must be published,” he said. “At the same time I express strong concern about the effort to politically exploit society’s understandable demand of society for transparency.”
Anastasiades said hard work, patience, and professionalism have managed to prove wrong the many people who were certain that Cyprus was finished as a services providing centre a year ago.
“Let us not achieve with out irresponsibility, what those who wanted to see Cyprus services sector collapse failed to achieve,” Anastasiades said.