Cyprus Mail

Police freeze MP loan probe (Update)

ECB chief Mario Draghi

By Angelos Anastasiou

Police investigators have been instructed to freeze scrutiny of eight computer hard drives, seized from the Central Bank as part of a probe into the leaking of a list of parliamentarians with non-performing loans, pending further instructions from Attorney-general Costas Clerides, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said on Wednesday.

The decision is linked with the European Central Bank’s reaction to the investigation.

However, Angelides added, it did not mean that investigation into the case – which started when deputy Zacharias Koulias filed a complaint with the police – has been suspended.

Last March, a list of sitting deputies’ outstanding and non-serviced loans at the Bank of Cyprus was leaked to the media, with the lender confirming having prepared one at the Central Bank’s request, but denying having leaked it.

Koulias – one of those named on the leaked list – complained to the police, citing a violation of his right to privacy.

Last month, police raided the Central Bank and seized eight computer hard drives and several documents as evidence.

The raid prompted a stern warning letter by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi to President Nicos Anastasiades, dated June 1.

Draghi argued that hard drives and documents seized must be returned immediately otherwise the ECB would refer the matter to the European Court of Justice since Eurosystem Central Banks are independent of member-state government scrutiny and are the direct remit of the ECB.

Anastasiades replied that the executive branch of government – meaning himself – has no jurisdiction in matters of police investigations, and referred Draghi to Clerides.

The Attorney-general decided to put the probe on hold, and dispatched a letter of response to Draghi on Wednesday.

According to business portal Stockwatch, in his letter to Draghi – copied to Anastasiades – the Attorney-general informed the ECB boss of the full extent of the measures taken by Cypriot authorities in order to maintain confidentiality.

Police investigators assigned to the leak case agreed with the Central Bank that the hard drives and documents would be examined in the presence of Central Bank officials to safeguard the confidentiality of information relating to the Eurosystem.

But when the official informed police that he would not be attending the scheduled session last Sunday – on instructions from the Central Bank’s lawyers – Clerides ordered police to postpone looking at the drives for the time being, pending further instructions.

According to Angelides, with the exception of this development, investigation of the case continues as normal, with the collection of statements, and the case has not been put on hold.

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