Cyprus Mail

Police to probe Orphanides comments in collapse of economy

Former Central Bank Governor Athanasios Orphanides (Christos Theodorides)

FOLLOWING former Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) governor Athanasios Orphanides’ explosive testimony in two successive House Ethics committee sessions, police investigating possible crimes that led to the collapse of the economy have also asked for a written testimony on particular events, police spokesman Andreas Angelides confirmed on Thursday.

Speaking on state radio, Angelides said Orphanides, whose comments prompted an invitation to a meeting with auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides, has been asked to elaborate on issues he touched on in the House sessions, on which his account may prove helpful to investigators already working on particular cases.

“There are cases at an advanced stage, which are expected to be brought to court,” Angelides said.

“Investigators have contacted Mr Orphanides and in the coming days they are expected to meet, so that he can share information on particular issues under investigation.”

Orphanides’ testimony, his second after another in 2014, will be “evaluated and forwarded to the Legal Services”, Angelides added.

Investigators have also asked for the minutes of Tuesday’s marathon Ethics committee session, in which Orphanides spoke for five hours.

According to daily Phileleftheros, points of particular interest in what Orphanides mentioned were the facts surrounding the Bank of Cyprus’ 2008 takeover of Russian bank Uniastrum, which subsequently incurred heavy losses for the Cypriot lender, Cypriot banks’ investments in Greek sovereign debt, which was later ‘haircut’, incurring destructive losses, and the distress-sale of Cypriot banks’ branches in Greece to Piraeus Bank in March 2013.

Meanwhile, Orphanides’ chat with Michaelides was expected to be held on Thursday.

The auditor-general told lawmakers on Tuesday that two issues are being looked into by his department – the approval of emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) to now-defunct Laiki Bank’s in the years leading up to its demise, and the sale of Cypriot banks’ Greek branches to Piraeus Bank.

Michaelides said the Audit Service’s probe is in its final stages and, once completed, will be handed to the Attorney-General.

Addressing deputies on Tuesday, the auditor-general said he could not promise to share his report with parliament as it would most likely be of interest to the Legal Services – suggesting evidence, or at least strong suspicions, of wrongdoing has been found.

Orphanides’ meetings with the Audit Service and police investigators were scheduled on an as-soon-as-possible basis, as the former central banker lives and works as a university professor in the United States.

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