Cyprus Mail

Senior BoC exec turns consultant for debtor

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou

A former senior executive with Bank of Cyprus (BoC), at a time when the lender was loading up on loans that later turned sour, is now acting as a consultant for one of the bank’s largest debt holders.
The matter resurfaced during Tuesday’s session of the House institutions committee, attended by the Central Bank chief, bankers and finance minister Harris Georgiades.
While discussing bad debt and loan restructuring, AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou said she had information that two of the bank’s largest debtors have not signed a floating charge agreement, which allows a bank to take over a business that has trouble repaying its loans.
She then demanded to know which BoC officials granted loans to the Leptos Group.
Georgiades was quick on the draw, suggesting to the AKEL MP she should instead focus on a single individual who previously worked at the bank and who now has ties to the Leptos Group.
Coming back, Charalambidou challenged Georgiades to name the individual he was referring to.
“It’s the person who penned the infamous line, ‘Andros and his people’,” Georgiades quipped.
The ‘Andros and his people’ remark is attributed to Vasos Shiarly, who was a senior executive at BoC before being appointed finance minister in March 2012 under the administration of Demetris Christofias.
The line is taken from a May 2012 memo discussing a particular nominee for the new board of directors at Laiki Bank, right after the state underwrote a €1.8b in new shares to keep the lender afloat.
The memo, which leaked out, featured handwritten notes saying that the board nominee was “supported by Andros and his people” – alluding to AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou.
The memo caused something of a stir at the time as it revealed that support from the then ruling party was a plus for candidates to Laiki’s board.
The suspected authors of the memo were either Shiarly or then-Central Bank governor Panicos Demetriades.
However, by specifically mentioning a person who has since gone on to work with the Leptos Group, Georgiades was clearly fingering Shiarly as the former BoC executive who coined the ‘Andros and his people’ line.
From this AKEL-DISY duel, Georgiades seemed to come out the better; when Charalambidou was asked to name the banker or bankers she was talking about, she balked, responding that the question should be put to Georgiades – even though she was the one who raised the subject in the first place.
In May last year a confidential list with the 24 largest debtors in BoC and the amounts they owe, was leaked to the news site Stockwatch.
Leptos Group was said to owe the bank some €500m (as of June 2013).

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