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Attorney-general crushes latest move to help Laiki creditors

Members of the House ethics committee were angered on Wednesday after the attorney-general said they could not vote to transfer the assets of the defunct Laiki bank to its creditors.

Committee chairman, Disy MP Zaharias Zahariou, said their aim was to give back as much as possible to those that lost out when the lender went under in March 2013.

However, he added, so far they had only encountered obstacles and refusals.

“We had requested through the finance ministry for a legal opinion on whether parliament could hand over the assets to the creditors with a law,” Zahariou said. “The opinion … says that based on the EU acquis, such potential does not exist.”

Zahariou suggested it was an unacceptable opinion and also censured the Legal Service’s attitude.

The Disy MP said the service must understand that the constitution clearly separated the powers and there cannot be a legal opinion from the attorney-general set in stone that parliament cannot pass a law.

“Our constitution stipulated that it is the Supreme Court that rules on which laws are constitutional or come into conflict with the European acquis,” he said. “This humiliation of parliament with this legal opinion from the Legal Service will not go unnoticed.”

Zahariou said he intended to inform the House president and the party leaders about the situation. On the asset issue, he said a new meeting will be convened to see if there is any way to support those affected.

The chairman of the Laiki depositor association said the lenders’ assets were worth €900 million when the resolution authority took them over whereas now they were under €300m.

Adonis Papaconstantinou said as long as the subsidiaries were under the administration of the resolution authority they would only lose in value.

“Unfortunately, despite the ethics committee discussing the issue repeatedly, the only thing we hear each time is what cannot be done,” he said. “We recommend one thing, we are told it cannot be done; we propose another, we get the same answer.”


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