The government has repeatedly asked France to hand over a list of suspected Cyprus-based tax evaders, but the requests have not been met with success, the finance minister said on Tuesday.
Since March 2013, Nicosia has on several occasions asked Paris to furnish the so-called ‘Lagarde list’, with Nicosia invoking the double taxation avoidance treaty between the two countries, Harris Georgiades told MPs.
Pressed on the subject, the minister said a fresh attempt would be made at obtaining the list.
But he was not optimistic, he added.
Georgiades was attending a session of the House watchdog committee, whose official order of business was reviewing the Auditor-general’s findings on the finance ministry for the year 2013.
The minister’s responses did not satisfy MPs.
AKEL deputy Irini Charalambidou said Cyprus is the only country that has not got the ‘Lagarde list’, whereas other countries which have obtained it have since cracked down on big tax evaders.
“It seems some people here do not want the list,” she added in a loaded comment.
Over 300 Cyprus-affiliated individuals or companies have money sitting in Swiss bank accounts, according to the findings of an investigation of over 100,000 HSBC clients from 203 countries by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
There was more acrimony when Georgiades, asked who drafted the legislation on the bail-in (or haircut) of depositors, replied that the previous government did.
In late 2012, during the Christofias administration, the finance ministry and the Central Bank of Cyprus jointly drafted The Resolution of Credit and Other Institutions Law.
According to Georgiades, on January 11, 2013 then-finance minister Vasos Shiarly addressed a letter to the European Central Bank, in which he forwarded the law and asked for the ECB’s expert feedback.
The ECB’s position at the time was that insured deposits (below €100,000) should not be exempt from a haircut, he added.
This provoked outrage from AKEL MPs, who accused Georgiades of twisting the facts and the government camp of cowardice.
“You did the haircut, you should stick by it, instead of blaming others for it,” AKEL deputy Pambos Papageorgiou burst out.
He was understood to be addressing the President.