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Cyprus

Bondholders lash out at Laiki auditors and political establishment

Head of the bondholders association Phivos Mavrovouniotis (left)

By Andria Kades

The bondholder’s association issued damning statements yesterday against private audit services PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Grant Thornton for allegedly misleading them over the robustness of Laiki bank, as well as slamming the President, Parliament and political parties for indifference to their plight.

Accusing PwC and Grant Thornton, the leader of the association Fivos Mavrovouniotis said that through different actions and omissions, the audit companies misled depositors, bondholders, investors and shareholders of the financial situation of now defunct Laiki Bank.

Citing findings by a London-based audit service the bondholders turned to in their own investigation,

Mavrovouniotis said: “Laiki accounts and bulletins that PwC and Grant Thornton signed off on did not give an accurate picture of the annual results and the financial situation of the bank.

“As a result we trusted what was publically announced about Laiki’s robust results and we transferred our deposits there which the bank later – misleading us for a second time – converted to bonds.”

PwC denied the accusations saying they were unsubstantiated and all audits followed “the professional and legal requirements in accordance with international audit service standards and relevant legislations.”

It sought to add that in a 2011 report it “expressed concern over the possibility of the bank’s ability to continue operating, even after it was nationalised, and the assurances given by the competent authorities.”

Mavrouvouniotis also called on health services to offer medical and psychological support to bondholders as many were killing themselves.

Accusing President Nicos Anastasiades he said his stance so far was unacceptable, as he had not stayed true to his election campaign promises or those he gave after he was elected.

Central Bank Governor Chrystalla Georghadji, he said, had not done anything about the fact that banks were offering loans to buy their own capital.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou got his share of blame for promising free legal aid to the bond holders, assigning judges to deal with the case but he was essentially “mocking them”.

He also accused House President Yiannakis Omirou and political parties of negligence and empty promises, the Resolution Authority for not transferring their bonds to Bank of Cyprus. The association has also filed a complaint against Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides for not sticking to his assurances that he would arrange a meeting between bondholders and police investigators.

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