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Cyprus

Investigations into financial collapse ‘at a critical juncture’

Attorney general Costas Clerides on Tuesday gave “illuminating insights” to members of the House Ethics Committee on the progress of criminal investigations into the collapse of the financial system and the destruction of Cyprus’ economy.

Speaking to reporters after the closed session, committee chairman Nicos Nicolaides said Clerides and the lead investigator outlined where the various issues raised in the findings of a report drafted by the committee on the causes of the financial crisis were.

Nicolaides said it was understood during the briefing that a lot of hard investigative work is being done on extremely complex issues, which are unprecedented with regard to Cyprus’ judicial system as they require legal assistance from other countries.

“It was established that the investigative authorities and the Legal Service have the required hardware and manpower to address the issues,” Nicolaides said.

“Any delays are due to the complexity of the issues and the inherent difficulties. The committee understands these issues, while expressing the broader public demand that the procedure moves ahead the soonest possible.”

Nicolaides said the Ethics committee’s report formed a comprehensive and objective context in which the competent authorities should investigate criminal, oversight, or political responsibilities.

He added that the committee will return to the issues raised in the committee’s report which investigators deem unfit to prosecute in court.

“Parliament must decide how to address these issues, through what procedures, and guide investigation into these responsibilities, which are no less serious and important than any criminal liability.”

In addition, he said, the committee will also discuss issues relating to independent authorities – mainly the Central Bank of Cyprus – that have obligations parallel to those toward the Republic of Cyprus.

Deputy chair Demetris Syllouris said a broader investigative body may be needed to address the issues deemed unprosecutable by the Legal Service.

“The police needs to be strengthened, especially in the field of financial crime, which I believe should concern all of us, as well as the police itself,” Syllouris said.

“We need to exhaustively examine the institutional operation of the Central Bank and its obligations towards the state of Cyprus.”

DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou said some cases are about to filed in court, while others came up in the course of investigations and will be examined at a later stage.

“Investigations are at a critical juncture,” he said.

“We are all wiser, and more optimistic, today. The Attorney General said that some serious cases are already in court, some are very close to being filed.”

AKEL deputy Aristos Damianou complained that political responsibilities are not being looked into.

“On a series of issues relating to political decisions there is no criminal investigation, even as various rumours have been heard at times, which hint at expediencies transcending politically-driven decisions – I am talking about the time before, during, and after the ‘haircut’ on deposits, deposit outflows, the sale of Cypriot banks’ branches in Greece, and other such issues.”

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