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AG says he knows the law after being called on to probe Co-op (updated)

Attorney-general Costas Clerides

Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Tuesday he knew his job well and didn’t need encouragement or prompting on whether he would launch a probe into the possibility of wrongdoing at the Co-op bank.

The AG was commenting on a letter sent to him by main opposition Akel asking him to investigate the Co-op sale to Hellenic bank and other aspects relating to the management of the lender.

“I have indeed received the letter, but both regarding it, and any other prompts to investigate the issue of the state of the Co-op bank, I want to say that the AG is observing events and he knows his powers and authorities well and does not need encouragement or prompting from anybody on whether he will exercise them of his own volition or otherwise.”

Opposition parties have been crying foul over the sale of the Co-op bank to Hellenic, suggesting that the deal was to the private lender’s advantage, leaving taxpayers with the bill.

Akel leader Andros Kyprianou on Tuesday wrote to the AG asking him to look into the issue.

“It is a clear that the government’s handling and decisions not only led to the co-op’s closure and selloff, but also saddling the Cypriot economy and the taxpayers with billions of euros,” a statement said. “The Anastasiades-Disy government has sold off the co-op bank to a private bank with a subsidy.”

The party said that it was blatantly obvious that beyond the political responsibility of the government “over the economic crime that has been perpetrated” a comprehensive and independent probe must also be undertaken to identify possible criminal and other offences.

Diko chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos voiced concern over the developments, saying that parliament must be informed immediately about the details of the deal and the management of non-performing loans by the entity the government planned to set up.

Papadopoulos said it appeared that the country’s public debt would jump because of the deal and it also seemed that it was unfavourable for taxpayers who were left to carry the risk almost alone.

Asked to comment on the criticism from opposition parties regarding the Co-op Bank, President Nicos Anastasiades said, “We have to wait until tomorrow.”
Commenting further on the issues, the director of strategy and restructuring of the Cyprus Co-Op Bank Yiannos Stavrinides told CyBC those calling for an investigation of the Co-Op “should tell us if they wanted a haircut on deposits in 2014, when billions were placed in capital stocks to deal with the huge problem of non-performing loans.”

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