By George Psyllides
AUTHORITIES are working continuously to expedite and reinforce ongoing investigations into the collapse of the economy, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Thursday, warning however that the task at hand was difficult and complex.
“Our work is different, it aims at resolving cases with the possibility of criminal offences having being committed,” Clerides said, as he received the findings of a probe carried out by the House Ethics Committee into the causes of the economic collapse.
Clerides said the material could be used as a guide to secure additional primary sources, documents, statements; a useful tool that will be put to good use.
He warned however that the investigation of such matters was especially laborious, multi-faceted and complicated, making the work of the officers difficult.
Clerides asked for understanding, acknowledging at the same time the impatience felt by the public.
“I want to assure that we are working intensively towards expediting and bolstering the ongoing investigations in a bid to get practical results as soon as possible,” Clerides said.
Ethics Committee chairman Demetris Syllouris said MPs want justice to be done as soon as possible but not for the sake of satisfying public sentiment.
“I am certain the attorney-general’s office will proceed swiftly so that justice is served at the end of the day, things corrected, and we also have to see the other issue of correcting the pathogenesis of the system,” Syllouris said.
The chairman of the committee has been heavily criticised after he published a list with the names of companies that transferred money abroad with the permission of the Central Bank during a bank lockdown.
Several companies have so far denied any wrongdoing – some warned of legal measures — while it appears that publication of the list has done damage abroad.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides, accompanying the president on a visit to Germany, said he was asked by a German reporter how the government expected anyone to invest in Cyprus when names were made public with such ease.
Weekly Kathimerini newspaper reported that German ship owners had been irked by the publication and were expected to give the president an earful.
On Thursday, Syllouris said the transactions on the list were legitimate but did not rule out other transfers taking place during the lockdown.
The list, which also included inflows, concerns transactions carried out by the Bank of Cyprus (BoC) and Laiki between March 20 and 22 and March 19 and 31, respectively.
The overseas transfers during that time were subject to the approval of the Central Bank.
All local banks remained shut between March 15 and March 28 after the Eurogroup decided to seize part of deposits in all banks in Cyprus to recapitalise Laiki and BoC.
This was rejected by parliament and on March 25, the Eurogroup decided to resolve Laiki and seize uninsured deposits in BoC to recapitalise the island’s biggest lender.