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MP calls on public to protest squandering of co-op funds

Anna Theologou

Independent MP, Anna Theologou, has called on the public to join her on Thursday outside the presidential palace to protest against the squandering of public money at the co-op bank.

In a video on her Facebook profile, Theologou said that she would go outside the presidential palace on Thursday at 4pm to demonstrate over “an organisation for which we all have paid out of our pockets for its support”.

She said that she will present a memo addressed to the attorney-general asking him to look into possible “irregularities and squandering of public funds as regards the management of the organisation”. All those joining her will be asked to sign it, she said.

She said she chose Thursday to protest because it is the deadline for the expression of interest in the co-op bank by investors.

“I want to believe that we care about who manages public funds and how they embezzle people’s money with their decisions,” Theologou said.

The protest aims at showing that “this mockery is no longer tolerated”, she said, and that the people deserve an explanation.

“I believe that no one will tolerate to pay again, for the third time, for the mistakes of the banks and I truly hope that this time those responsible assume their responsibilities and resign,” she said.

The co-op announced last week it was opening a virtual data room so that potential investors could access information. The process launched by the bank has two parts, one offering the choice of acquiring the co-op as a licensed entity, or part of, or all its assets and liabilities. After March 29, potential investors will be given time to submit binding offers.

Opposition politicians fret that the ‘good part’ of the co-op will be sold off to private investors, while the state will retain the ‘bad part’ – the balance sheet with the delinquent loans, and this after taxpayers bailed out the lender to the tune of some €1.7bn.

The co-op bank was recapitalised with €1.67bn in taxpayer money in 2014 and 2015, but it is struggling with some €6.4bn in non-performing loans, accounting for more than half of its loan portfolio.

Following criticism, the co-op told MPs last week that the invitation to investors aimed at increasing its share capital and not to sell the state’s shares in the lender.

 

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