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Our View: Shabby behaviour from CBC chief

The discussion at the House Ethics committee regarding the CBC governor's contract has been pushed back a week at the request of DYSI leader Averof Neophytou

CENTRAL BANK governor Chrystalla Georghadji had no intention of resigning sources close to her were quoted as saying by state radio yesterday. Four parties, including DISY, had called on her to step down on Friday after it was confirmed at a House committee meeting that she had removed a clause from her contract barring first degree relatives of the governor from being involved in any business that was in conflict with the duties of the governor.

To make matters worse, President Anastasiades issued a statement after the House meeting stating that the governor was lying when she said that he was aware about the change to the contract and that she had discussed the issue of her daughter’s employment at the law office representing Andreas Vgenopoulos in a lawsuit filed against him by legacy Laiki. He also Accused Georghadji of abusing the trust he had shown her in order to avoid her legal obligations. It was a very harsh statement to which the governor did not respond.

However, it justified the calls for her resignation. She had changed her contract so that a glaring conflict of interest would not be a contractual issue, and she lied to the legislature, according to president. As if this were not bad enough, a report in yesterday’s Phileleftheros suggested she had added a provision to her contract that would make her total earnings as governor €10,000 higher per year than her predecessor whose gross annual pay was €182,000. This was shabby behaviour from someone earning such a high salary, at a time when everyone has had their pay cut, but the president’s aides were at fault for not checking the signed contract.

Under normal circumstances, Georghadji should have been forced to step down, even though this is easier said than done – the governor is an independent state official on a five-year contract that cannot be terminated because the president’s aides allowed provisions of the contract to be changed. It would also reflect badly on the government if Georghadji stepped down a few months after her appointment, especially as her predecessor had been pressured into resigning, two years into his contract.

There is a very simple solution to the problem. The governor’s daughter should either stop working for the law office representing Vgenopoulos or the law office should inform the Greek banker that it can no longer represent him. Georghadji should also issue an apology for her shabby behaviour admitting that she had made a serious error of judgment. It is a very small concession to make in order to defuse the situation, because there is a blatant conflict of interest.

Her defence, that there is no conflict because she does not attend meetings of the resolution authority dealing with the Vgenopoulos case is beyond ludicrous. This is an admission that she is not performing her duties as governor, so that her daughter can carry on representing Vgenopoulos. This is not a show of integrity, as she claims, but a dereliction of duty. Surely the governor should be closely following a case at which a billion euro could be at stake.

Georghadji must cut out the legalistic nonsense and pathetic excuses and make a choice – either her daughter cuts all her professional links with Vgenopoulos or she steps down as governor.

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