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Our View: Legacy Laiki bungle getting worse by the day

THE RESIGNATION of the administrator of legacy Laiki, Andri Antoniadou has sparked a major public row, involving politicians, the Central Bank Governor, the resolution authority, Limassol law offices and interest groups. All that the angry exchanges seem to have produced is confusion and the suspicion that nobody really knows what he or she is doing.

Antoniadou resigned last Monday because the Resolution Authority, made up of the board of the Central Bank, decided to appoint a new law office to represent legacy Laiki. She claimed the decision undermined the efforts of the law office she had earlier hired to bring the former Laiki strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos to justice and implied that the governor was trying to prevent this from happening. She also brought up the issue of conflict of interest, while the two Limassol firms also exchanged charges.

The head of the law office whose services were terminated, argued that it was not able to enforce a freeze on Vgenopoulos’ assets held in other countries, because the Resolution Authority would not approve the necessary expenditure on legal fees abroad. Yet people had been under the impression that the assets freeze had already been executed as the Resolution Authority had announced plans to pursue it some 18 months ago. What happened in the intervening period?

This also reflected badly on the Laiki administrator, as Diko chief Nicholas Papadopoulos pointed out. He argued that Antoniadou had the biggest share of responsibility for the slow pace at which legal procedures against Vgenopoulos had been moving. She was also accused of failing to sell any of Laiki’s assets and generate cash. It is not clear who is in charge of disposing Laiki’s assets – the administrator or the Resolution Authority? Is the former answerable to the latter? If the Authority felt the administrator was not performing her duties satisfactorily, why had it not replaced her?

Meanwhile, a Disy deputy has called for the resignation of the governor Chrystalla Georghadi so as to help matters and the Auditor-general will carry out an investigation into allegations that the governor’s daughter was still working for the law office representing Vgenopoulos. It gets worse: the association of Laiki depositors (SYKALA) had demanded the opening of the bank accounts of all those involved with Laiki, supposedly in order to establish whether anyone was on the take. SYKALA has also been demanding that it be given the responsibility of the bank’s administration.

This is not as ludicrous a suggestion as it seems. Given the mess that has been created by the Resolution Authority, the administrator and the law offices involved in the winding down of Laiki, any other group running the show is likely to do a better job. Of course it may be too late now as the new administrator and his/her legal counsel might not find any Vgenopoulos assets to freeze as the banker would not have been waiting around for the bunglers in Cyprus to get their act together.

Duped depositors want control of ‘legacy Laiki’

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