By George Psyllides
CENTRAL Bank Governor Chrystalla Georghadji said on Saturday she did not intend to resign her post, a day after President Nicos Anastasiades launched a scathing attack against her for the alleged removal of wording in her contract pertaining to conflict of interest arising from blood relatives, and accusing her of lying about encounters she claimed to have had with him.
Parties demanded an investigation as questions were also raised concerning the handling of the affair by the presidential palace.
Reports also suggested Georghadji had fallen foul of the establishment, targeted by people she had irked during the seven months at the helm of the Central Bank, but also when she was the island’s auditor-general.
The Central Bank governor, currently abroad, has not commented on the president’s surprisingly scathing statement on Friday afternoon, apart from saying she did not intend to resign.
Earlier, an irate Georghadji left a tumultuous House Ethics Committee session after being grilled on potential conflict of interest arising from her daughter’s involvement in representing ex-Laiki Bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos in a legal case brought against him by legacy Laiki, which is answerable to the Resolution Authority – headed by the governor of the Central Bank.
She told MPs her contract did not include a clause found in the contracts of two former governors, which precluded them, or their spouse, or any first-degree relative from employment in any banking, financial, commercial, industrial, agricultural or other business in a way that is in conflict with the duties of the governor.
Georghadji said the clause was not included in her contract as it is not required by law. She noted that President Anastasiades had been informed of the omission in the law.
But Anastasiades denied knowing, conceding however that no one had bothered reading the signed contract after it was returned to them by Georghadji.
The president said he had instructed the head of his office, as in the case of every new appointment, to prepare the appointment contract.
“On my instructions, the Director of my Office also sent Mrs Georghadji a copy of her two predecessors’ contracts, so she could be made aware of the terms of her appointment,” Anastasiades said.
“Mrs Georghadji returned the contract to the Director of my Office with no mention of removed clauses relating to conflicts of interest due to blood relatives’ employment.”
In addition to this omission, he added, Georghadji had never in any way informed him that her daughter was employed at her ex-husband’s law firm, but “even worse, that said law firm were the legal representatives of Laiki Bank’s former chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos.”
“I am further saddened by Mrs Georghadji’s allegation that, following revelations of her former husband and her daughter with Mr Vgenopoulos, she discussed the matter with me, and that I allegedly told her that I had been aware of the source of the attacks against her,” Anastasiades charged.
However, beyond the blatantly sloppy way with which the Palace admittedly handled the contract, observers questioned the claim that Anastasiades did not know. The story had been in the news for at least two months, even if Georghadji had not informed him.
Main opposition AKEL, who saw its own appointment to the post resign seven months ago after just two years in office, pounced on the opportunity to criticise Anastasiades and ruling DISY.
The party accused them of doing or saying nothing for two months and only reacting when the governor told MPs that the president knew about the clause.
AKEL demanded an investigation into the matter, as did EDEK.
Parties wasted little time on Friday to demand Georghadji’s resignation, something they failed to do in the case of Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, who is facing charges in connection with sending threatening texts and is also under investigation for other matters. Vergas belongs to DIKO.
Parties also failed to issue any form of statement concerning the imprisonment of former Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou for tax offences.
Daily Politis sought to explain this by listing people whom Georghadji may have upset.
First there were the two law offices that represented the ex-Laiki administrator, with which Georghadji had disagreed with. Politis said in one case, Anastasiades himself had intervened, asking her to back down.
There was also the issue with the Bank of Cyprus board on which parties and various law offices had members. The governor had asked all of them to resign in light of the lender’s recapitalisation and new shareholding structure. DIKO chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos publically reacted charging that two of the new members were clients of Anastasiades’ law office.
Hitting back, government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos said this sounded like the pot calling the kettle black.
“It is high time that Mr Papadopoulos stopped invoking Russian depositors [as a smokescreen] to protect people who are closely associated with him on the board of Bank of Cyprus,” he said.
Politis went a step further, reminding its readers that as auditor-general, Georghadji in 2007 issued a damning report suggesting a link between the law office of Papadopoulos’ father, Tassos, who was president at the time, and a French company gunning for a contract to supply Cyprus with liquefied natural gas to Cyprus.
There was also a damning report about the trade minister at the time, Giorgos Lillikas, and his connection with a company that clinched tourism promotional contracts during the 2004 Athens Olympics.