GOVERNOR of the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) Chrystalla Georgahdji revealed her spinelessness on Thursday when she meekly gave in to the pressure from AKEL chief Andros and terminated the services of the PA she had chosen a few weeks earlier to run her office.
It was as if she felt a moral obligation to warn us not to expect very much from her because at heart she is just another weak-willed, self-serving, public sector mediocrity that goes with the flow for the sake of an easy and stress-free life.
She might be an independent state official, accountable to nobody, but as a long-time member of the public parasite class, showing subservience and obedience to our mighty politicians is second nature for her.
Her cowardly backing down over the PA, because she came under some criticism from the commie boss and her publicity-mad successor, acting on instructions from Andros, illustrated how far she was prepared to go to defend the independence of the governor.
CRYSTAL had approached Koulla Savva, who was forced to take early retirement when the commies took control of the CBC, and asked her to return and work as her PA. She had vast experience as she had served as the PA of two former governors and Crystal believed she was the ideal person to organise her office.
The appointment was unanimously approved by the board of the CBC, but when Andros heard about it he reported the decision to the attention-seeking Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides who wrote to Crystal censuring the decision as a case of favouritism (that is what meritocracy-worshipping Andros had complained about).
Andros said it was unacceptable to hire someone who had taken early retirement from the bank when there were thousands of unemployed people looking for work. Were there many unemployed people with experience of working as a PA of the Central Bank governor, or was Andros suggesting the job should have been given to a jobless builder.
BEFORE he had even received a response from Crystal, the Attention-seeking-General Odysseas leaked his letter to the press as part of his ongoing self-promotion campaign.
In her letter, dated September 15, Crystal explained that the board followed all correct procedures and provisions of the law in appointing Savva, who was chosen because of her long experience working in the Governor’s office. Among other things,her letter said:
“Furthermore, the CBC board, being fully aware of the conditions prevailing in the economy, but without being able to ignore the basic obligation of safeguarding the smooth operation of departments/services of the Central Bank and the office of the Governor and as its actions are on all accounts lawful, it cannot rescind its original decision.”
Ten days later, on September 25, Crystal cracked and rescinded the board’s original decision, showing us all what a resolute character she is.
THE WORST part of this story was the way she treated the hapless Savva. When Crystal decided that she would get rid of her PA, she suggested that Savva told her colleagues she left the post for personal reasons, after the fuss that was created.
Savva would have had a big shock if she read yesterday’s Alithia in which Crystal declared that she had terminated her PA’s employment, after the complaints of AKEL chief and the letters sent by the Auditor-General Publicity.
The crafty Crystal must have thought that as she had had publicly bowed to Andros she might as well take the credit for it, rather than allow Savva to claim she walked. She may have embarrassed herself, but I suspect she took the hit because she had bigger political ambitions than the governorship of the CBC.
It is no secret that Crystal has designs on the presidency and her only chance of realising her ambition is as an independent candidate backed by AKEL. Swallowing her pride and giving in to Andros’ ridiculous demand was a clever way to advance this claim.
She is smart enough to know that Akelites love an independent official (or presidential candidate) who subordinates his or her independence to the demands of the party and when the time comes for the comrades to look for an independent presidential candidate they may go knocking on the governor’s door.
THE DIRECTORS of the Bank of Cyprus were not happy bunnies when they received the letter from Crystal on Monday, telling them that they would all have to surrender their seats on the board so that the next AGM, set for late November, could elect a new board.
Many of the directors were devastated as they hoped they would have stayed on even after the AGM; regulations stipulate that 30 per cent of the serving directors have to step down every year, not all of them.
It has been said that the new main shareholder of the BoC, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross wants a smaller board. The board now has the maximum number of members permitted by law – 14 – because the government wanted as many seats as possible to distribute among the political parties. But now that the state does not control the bank it cannot justify a cumbersome 14-member board.
Crystal’s letter enraged the leaders of DISY and DIKO who publicly slammed the governor’s decision as both would lose their influence in the board when their agents were removed. It also looked bad that they did not have the muscle to offer protection to their placemen.
However, Crystal, as part of her spineless policy to keep the politicians happy, met the DISY chief later in the week to appease him.
THE ROW was moved to the front page of Phil, which carried the front page headline ‘Looking for the €800 million’ on Friday. In its report the paper said that €800 million of the €1 billion new capital raised by the BoC had gone towards paying off part of the ELA debt, without the board being informed.
This was some directors’ way of getting their own back on Crystal and the bank’s CEO John Hourican for supposedly having sanctioned the payment without authorisation from the board. Crystal had said the payment had been made on a Wednesday night TV show.
The paper reported that directors were incensed. An internal investigation had been ordered to establish why and how the money was transferred and the board also wrote to Hourican demanding an explanation from him, but had yet to receive a reply.
Being political placemen, the Cypriot directors tried to score some cheap points against Crystal and Hourican by resorting to traditional patriotic populism – they were supposedly furious because the money should have been put into the economy to kick-start the recovery. If it were up to them this is what would have happened, but they were never informed.
THE REALITY is that they did know the 800 million would have gone towards the ELA debt. In its presentations to investors abroad, to raise capital, the BoC representatives made a point of informing their audience that most of the money raised would be used to repay ELA.
Were the directors not aware of this, or did they think they would take the capital and channel it into the economy instead, because this is what their party masters wanted?
Apparently, the problem now is not that the banks have no money to lend, but that demand for bank loans is almost non-existent. So even if the socially sensitive board members of the BoC had their way it would not have made the slightest difference to the economy.
Leaking stories to the press is not the smartest way to hold on to their seats. If I were a director, I would go to Andros and ask him to publicly criticise Crystal’s decision to ask for the resignation of all the directors.
AS FOR the idea that they would make Hourican look bad, by debiting him with the transfer of the money, it is plainly stupid. Hourican has spent most of the last week with Wilbur, who arrived in Cyprus on his private jet for a brief visit. The two visited prez Nik and Archbishop Chrys. They then flew together to London, presumably for bank business. It is highly unlikely that the billionaire Yank will side with the party placemen, who know next to nothing about banking, against Hourican.
PREZ NIK was in euphoric mood last week in the Big Apple where he was entertained by the big boys of US politics – Kerry and Biden – met the UN Secretary-General and president of Egypt and, together with Mrs Nik, was photographed with the Obamas.
The mega smiles, on his and Andri’s faces in the photo with the Obamas, were of the type you wear when you are collecting the cheque for 10 million bucks you have won on the lottery.
Of course, there was a reason the Secretary of State and Vice President made time for the prez of a midget country. The Yanks want a settlement of the Cyprob so that Kyproulla can be used for the strategic plans of the US in the Middle East.
But the Yanks are making one big mistake. By having their top dogs lavishing attention on Nik and treating him like the leader of an important country, he would have no incentive to work for a settlement because it would end his presidency and the joy of meeting the world’s most powerful people.
THE FORMER minister and CBC governor Ttooulis Ttoouli finally appeared in court on Friday and pleaded guilty to six charges of tax offences in connection with the payment of €1 million by a Greek ship-owner to a company owned by his daughter.
Leaving the court, Ttooulis said the following: “I am at ease with my conscience because, as always, as in my private and public life, in the current case I performed my duty towards my country as an honourable citizen with integrity. For 18 months now a lot of dirty mud has been thrown at me, without this sparking the sensitivity and intervention of the Attorney-General…..”
Only Ttooulis could claim that a tax cheat is an “honourable citizen” that not declaring income of a million euro to the authorities was proof that he performed his “duty towards his country.” Even if we accept that he is an honourable tax cheat, the claim of his integrity is a bit more difficult to swallow. This is the guy who as governor of the CBC, had set up a banking school to which the banks he was supervising would pay to send their employees for training.
THE NEW Auditor-General needs to rein in his uncontrollable desire for publicity because he is fast becoming a big joke. In the last week he leaked to the media a report of alleged irregularities at the CTO, before he had even received a response from the organisation.
As part of his self-promotion as the great crusader against corruption, the brave Odysseas declares people guilty in the media, before even hearing their version of events. He did the same thing to Crystal with regard to the hiring of the PA – he released his letter of censure with waiting to hear Crystal’s explanation.
And when he runs out of important issues to expose he is happy to deal with trivialities. On Thursday Politis reported that Odysseas had asked for a re-examination of accusations against a teacher who was employed at the Music School without having a degree recognised by the state. I will not bore you with the details of the case, but I mentioned it because it shows no suspected irregularity is trivial enough for Odysseas not to use it to get his name in the papers.
LAST Sunday our establishment reported that Professor Panicos’ PA Eleni Markadji had received €20,000 in overtime pay and that her claim had been signed by the professor on his last day as governor. This was not entirely correct and we would like to apologise to Mrs Markadji for giving the wrong impression about the overtime pay she received. It was in fact not 20,000 but 19,300 euro.