THE MUCH-TRUMPETED Lagarde list, which supposedly includes the names of Cypriots with deposits in Switzerland’s HSBC bank, has been sent to the Cyprus government and some deputies have immediately started demanding that the names be made public. Deputies always seize the opportunity for rabble-rousing and sowing suspicions among people as it enables them to pose as the champions of virtue and custodians of public morality, something they are clearly not.
IMF chief Christine Lagarde, when she was serving as France’s finance minister, handed over the list, obtained by French police in 2009, to Greece’s government in 2010 to help it fight tax evasion. Ever since our deputies have been pressuring the government to ask for a copy because there were rumours Cypriots were included in the list. Now that the list has arrived deputies have decided it must be made public as if it were a crime for someone to have money deposited in a bank abroad.
It is very similar to their vociferous demand two years ago for the release of the names of everyone who had transferred money out of Cyprus before the bail-in of deposits and the closure of Laiki. Transfers were not in violation of any law yet the way deputies spoke about the matter the impression created was that a crime had been perpetrated and the guilty parties had to be punished. The names of some companies that had transferred large amounts of money were leaked to appease the deputies and the matter was forgotten.
In the case of the Lagarde list, finance minister Haris Georgiades – the country’s voice of reason – had to intervene and explain to deputies that it would be unlawful to disclose the names. He also pointed out that it was not against the law to have money in banks abroad nor did it follow that the owner of the account was guilty of tax evasion. All that could be done was for the list to go to the Inland Revenue Department which would investigate if there were Cypriots on it and whether their deposits were consistent with their tax declarations.
But this was a private matter between the tax authority and an individual Georgiades pointed out.
The hypocrisy and double standards of our deputies know no bounds. They want the names of individuals with money in a Swiss bank in 2009 to be released just as they were demanding the names of those who transferred money out of Cyprus in 2013 but when the list of deputies with NPLs found its way into a newspaper earlier this year they were furious about the violation of personal data. Such was their wrath one of them reported the case to police which is currently trying to establish the source of the leak.
Personal data must only be respected when deputies are involved but never in the case of anyone else.