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Unsubstantiated criticism of co-op findings harmful, AG says

Attorney-general Costas Clerides

Attorney-general Costas Clerides said Friday any criticism directed at a committee that investigated the collapse of the co-op bank must be backed by evidence otherwise it would cause harm to the institution and its usefulness.

The attorney general’s statement came a day after President Nicos Anastasiades more or less rubbished the findings of the investigation, which held the finance minister mainly responsible.

In a statement, Clerides said criticizing the work of the committee was certainly permissible but must be substantiated.

“Any criticism relating to the findings of committees appointed by the cabinet or the attorney-general must be supported with the proper arguments and not generalisations,” the AG said.

“Disparaging references about the findings or the members of the committee only served to degrade the credibility of the institution itself and its usefulness and not the credibility of a particular committee or its members,” Clerides said.

The president and his government have disputed the findings of the committee, which held Finance Minister Harris Georgiades mainly responsible for the co-op bank’s collapse under the weight of some €7bn in bad debts and its sale to Hellenic Bank.

Just because three people, who did not substantiate what they said, decided so, he did not have to accept what they said, according to Anastasiades.

“I hear criticism that the president is to blame because he hasn’t sacked the minister; And I ask: would the NPLs have been reduced if I dismissed him? Was the minister expected to go around collecting the NPLs?”

The president said no one was beyond criticism, including court decisions.

He added that he had the right to disagree with a report compiled by a “judge and two former bankers.”

Main opposition Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said Anastasiades has completely discredited the government and the office of the president.

“I want to express my regrets because it is obvious that this government is heading downhill and nothing can stop it,” Kyprianou said.

He accused Anastasiades of being a serial liar in a bid to salvage anything he could.

“What is worse, of course, is that Mr. Anastasiades refers to others, saying the way they behave denigrated the country’s political life, while it is him and his associates who have contributed in worsening the contempt towards political life and politicians,” Kyprianou said.

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