Cyprus Mail

MP facing conflict of interest allegations over loans

MP Anna Theologou

Independent MP Anna Theologou is facing accusations of conflict of interest after it emerged that she provided consultancy services to delinquent debtors with their properties on the line, while she herself recently tabled a bill seeking to exempt pre-2014 mortgages from foreclosure.

She has denied any unethical behaviour.

Daily Politis obtained documents from the Large Exposures Unit of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank, showing that Theologou mediated on behalf of a client of the firm Theologou & Poutziouris Services Ltd, to have the majority of the client’s debt written off.

The client’s debt to the bank, secured by properties in Limassol, dated to before 2014, when the core foreclosures law was passed – and thus the client’s case would fall under the bill tabled by Theologou herself in May, which provided that mortgages granted prior to the passage of that law should be exempted from foreclosure proceedings.

The bill – co-sponsored by Edek’s Marinos Sizopoulos and the Greens’ Giorgos Perdikis – fell by the wayside after failing to muster support in committee.

Theologou’s client held a debt (three separate loans) totalling €1.84m. At one point the bank proposed to this woman to take possession of three of her properties in exchange for wiping the slate clean.

The woman refused. In addition, according to a bank memo, she transferred one of the properties, located in Governor’s Beach, to her daughter, likely to make it seem like it was her daughter’s primary residence so that it could not be repossessed.

The client made a counter-offer, proposing that she sell properties in order to raise the money to pay off the debt. The bank subsequently discovered that these properties had been transferred to her sons, while also being mortgaged with the Housing Finance Corporation.

In May 2016 the bank filed legal action against the woman, and in January 2018 it terminated all her accounts.

In the interim, she sought advice from Theologou & Poutziouris Services Ltd.

Theologou, who by this time was MP, had proposed to the bank that it take possession only of the woman’s shop worth some €60,000, in exchange for which a €780,000 loan – one of three loans – would be written off.

And according to the same memo of the Large Exposures Unit, during a meeting she had with the bank, Theologou purportedly asserted that the cooperative bank “will not even be around anymore in the next couple of years”.

Speaking on Politis’ radio station on Tuesday, Theologou said that, while she does hold a position with the services firm in question, she works pro bono.

The MP was also on the back of accusations that she has a 25 per cent stake in a construction company which has over €1m in non-performing loans.

She held the position of chief financial officer in the same company from September 2008 to October 2011.

Theologou said that she never concealed this association, and that she included this information in her declaration of assets and source of income that all lawmakers must submit.

Hitting back, the MP alleged a media smear campaign was underway, in order to muzzle her after she proposed that all MPs must now declare any financial interest in relation to a bundle of bills relating to the tighter foreclosure legislation and the government guarantees to Hellenic Bank.

Amid the recriminations over the fate of the Cyprus Cooperative Bank, Theologou has also threatened to release information about MPs and relatives with delinquent loans.

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