Cyprus Mail

Those implicated in economic collapse will pay, says AG

Attorney-general Costas Clerides

By George Psyllides

ANYONE IMPLICATED in a criminal offence will be prosecuted irrespective of social status, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Monday.

He was commenting on the ongoing investigation into the collapse of the economy last year, which saw the closure of one bank while another was forced to seize depositor cash to recapitalise.

Clerides was asked about reports that former Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) governor Panicos Demetriades had played down the now-defunct Laiki Bank’s problems in a bid to keep it going through emergency liquidity assistance (ELA). Laiki received some €9.0 billion in ELA, a debt now burdening the Bank of Cyprus, which took over some of the bank’s operations.

In June 2013, Demetriades admitted that Laiki had been kept “on a ventilator” until Cyprus’ February 2013 presidential elections.

“ELA is one of the themes under investigation and any individuals, institutions, authorities, officials, etc, potentially implicated are under investigation,” Clerides said. “Anyone implicated in any criminal offence, whoever they are … will find themselves in the dock.”

The current administration forced Demetriades to resign after two years in office. But he received a payout of around €250,000

On the investigation in general, Clerides declined to give a timeframe for prosecutions.

“I avoid setting timeframes because the task is ongoing,” he said, adding that the investigation for some cases was in the final stages.

The scope of the police inquiry covers the banks’ expansion into Greece, bank corporate governance, the acquisition of Greek bonds, and how Laiki Bank came to amass some €9.0 billion in ELA.

Cypriot banks lost about €4.5 billion when European Union leaders agreed in late 2011 to a Greek debt write-down, designed to make that country’s debt burden more sustainable.

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