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Akel: government turning ‘black into white’ over Co-op collapse

Akel leader Andros Kyprianou

The opposition kept up the pressure on Finance Minister Harris Georgiades on Wednesday with the leader of Akel demanding his resignation or dismissal over the collapse of the Co-op bank.

Speaking during a visit to Paphos, Andros Kyprianou accused the government of immeasurable audacity in ignoring a damning report, which mainly blamed the minister for the lender’s demise.

Kyprianou said the report was crystal clear but “the government is trying to turn white into black in a bid to cover its own responsibilities.”

He said the minister had a huge responsibility, personal and not just political, and was obliged to resign, otherwise the president must sack him.

Akel said it would seek to register the matter for discussion by the House plenum.

He also joined Diko chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos and ruling Disy leader Averof Neophytou who are in favour of the disclosure of all details regarding the non-performing exposures belonging to politically exposed persons.

The Cyprus News Agency reported on Wednesday that a meeting had taken place at the Legal Service headed by the attorney-general to discuss the next steps concerning the findings of the probe into the Co-op.

The three-member panel had recommended further investigation into possible criminal offences committed by senior members including former CEO Nicolas Hadjiyiannis.

The attorney-general has set up two teams of state attorneys to study the findings to determine whether there were grounds for investigation.

President Nicos Anastasiades and Disy’s Neophytou have defended Georgiades arguing that the bank collapsed primarily because of bad loans accumulated prior to 2013.

Under Georgiades’ watch, the president said, the state was spared from a disorderly default, Cyprus successfully exited the international bailout deal, depositors’ savings were protected, bank employees kept their jobs, and the Co-op’s assets were safeguarded.

Last but not least, said Anastasiades, the Co-op’s sale last year was welcomed by EU institutions as well as by credit rating agencies, who went on to upgrade Cyprus’ sovereign rating to investment grade.

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