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Cyprus

MPs delay CBC chief’s contract debate by a week

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

By George Psyllides

THE House Ethics Committee has postponed next Tuesday’s discussion of the Central Bank governor’s contract and potential conflict of interest at the request of DISY leader Averof Neophytou who cannot attend because he will be abroad.

Committee chairman Phidias Sarikas said the meeting will now take place on November 17 or 18.
“It is logical when the leader of a party, the biggest one, asks the committee to postpone so that he can be present, for such a request to always be respected,” Sarikas said.

Last week, President Nicos Anastasiades launched a scathing attack against CBC governor Chrystalla Georghadji over the alleged removal of wording in her contract pertaining to conflict of interest arising from blood relatives, and accused her of lying about encounters she claimed to have had with him.

Sarikas assured that people should not get the impression there was any intention of postponing discussion to divert attention elsewhere.

“The entire committee considers the matter very important and the discussion should take pace as soon as possible,” he said.

MPs want to know who was responsible for drafting the contract and who had recommended removing the provision concerning the conflict of interest. Questions were also raised about the higher salary Georghadji appears to be receiving compared with her predecessor.

The committee also wants answers about claims Georghadji made concerning outside pressure and attempts to intimidate.

The committee can draft its own findings report into the matter and recommend the appointment of an investigator if deemed necessary although the final say lies with the Attorney-general.

Georghadji who has said she will not resign, left a tension-filled committee session last week 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 CBC governor.

She told MPs her agreement 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 affair has prompted discussion about the structure of the CBC and the possibility of changing it so that too much power was not concentrated in the hands of the governor.

As of the first week of November, the island’s four systemic banks – Bank of Cyprus, Hellenic, Co-ops and the Russian Commercial Bank – are now under the supervision of the European Central Bank.

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