By Angelos Anastasiou
After a two-month hiatus, police investigations into the leaking of a document listing the non-serviced loans of Cypriot parliamentarians with the Bank of Cyprus resumed this week.
The probe was initiated after independent deputy Zacharias Koulias, whose name appeared on the list, filed a complaint citing a violation of his right to privacy.
The list had been published by Politis newspaper in March 13, a day after former Central Bank board member Stelios Kiliaris told deputies on the House Ethics committee that he would be resigning his post in fear of his life, and claimed that CBC governor Chrystalla Georghadji had told her board that she had been in possession of said list.
Georghadji summarily rejected Kiliaris’ allegations, but the document appeared on Politis’ front page the next day.
Confounding matters further, after the list was revealed, the Bank of Cyprus first conceded it had prepared the list, but only at Georghadji’s request.
When Georghadji flatly denied this, the Bank of Cyprus retracted its earlier statement, saying the CBC governor had only asked for the list after its existence was made public in the press a few days earlier, but fell short of explaining why it had been prepared in the first place.
In addition to Koulias, who featured 8th among 13 deputies with non-performing loans – his adding up to €345,207, according to the document – the list included AKEL’s Christakis Tziovannis, NicosKatsourides, and leader Andros Kyprianou, DISY’s Andreas Kyprianou, Sotiris Sampson, Stella Kyriakidou and leader Averof Neophytou, EDEK’s Fidias Sarikas, and DIKO’s leader Nicolas Papadopoulos, as well as his predecessor Marios Garoyian.
It later transpired that some of the loans attributed to deputies personally were in fact taken out by their parties and only guaranteed by them.
Following Koulias’ complaint, police initiated an investigation and raided the Central Bank offices on May 26 and 27, seizing computers and documents as evidence, with the aim of identifying the leak.
Four days later, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi sent a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades warning him that, should police investigations further jeopardise the Eurosystem’s confidentiality, he would resort to the European Court of Justice, since national Central Banks of Euro-area member states fall exclusively under the umbrella of the ECB and not national authorities.
Anastasiades replied that the executive branch of government has no jurisdiction over police investigations, and referred Draghi to Cypriot Attorney General Costas Clerides.
A subsequent détente between Clerides and Draghi put the investigation on hold until an ECB emissary could arrive and physically witness the proceedings to ensure Eurosystem confidentiality would not be breached.
This week, a representative of the ECB is in Cyprus, sitting in on the examination of the hard drives seized from the Central Bank of Cyprus last May, which resumed on Monday.