Cyprus Mail

MPs delay bills on NPL disclosures

During hearings at the committee of inquiry probing the collapse of the Co-op Bank, it emerged that over 1,100 politically exposed persons (PEPs) had accounts with the lender and 623 of these were connected to non-performing loans

LAWMAKERS on Thursday kicked the can down the road on legislation that would oblige them, the president and ministers to declare whether they have non-performing loans.

Discussion of two relevant bills was postponed as the legislative proposals were said to have failed to garner sufficient backing in committee.

The aim had been for the bills to pass on May 10 – the last session of the plenum before the House stands in recess before the European Parliament elections – and also in time for officials to file their source of wealth and funds statements, scheduled for the end of May.

The statements to be filed this May will therefore not oblige officials to declare their non-performing loans (NPLs) this time around.

One of the bills – tabled by ruling Disy – would have added to the wealth disclosure a statement on NPLs. The other legislative proposal, belonging to the Greens, would have required officials to additionally declare whether they are guarantors to NPLs held by other persons.

Chair of the House legal affairs committee Giorgos Georgiou said that during the discussion a host of other issues came up relating to officials’ wealth disclosures, meaning realistically there was not enough time to consider all these prior to the May 10 cutoff date.

Georgiou said discussion on the proposed additions and amendments to the two bills will resume once the House reconvenes after the European Parliament elections (May 26) so that hopefully the bills can be brought to the plenum sometime in June and at any rate before parliament breaks for the summer recess.

During hearings at the committee of inquiry probing the collapse of the Co-op Bank, it emerged that over 1,100 politically exposed persons (PEPs) had accounts with the lender and 623 of these were connected to non-performing loans.

The PEPs included not just politicians but local community leaders.

Of the 623 relating to non-performing loan accounts, the total amounted to €146m in bad loans at the end of August 2018.

Only last month, outgoing Central Bank of Cyprus governor Chrystalla Giorghadji sent to parliament an updated list of non-performing loans of PEPs.

In December last year, Georghadji told MPs she had stopped looking into bad loans of politically exposed persons because she “got scared” when police seized her computers and questioned her.

Georghadji told the House finance committee that in 2015 she began gathering data on PEPs who had bad loans with Cypriot banks and that later in the same year someone had leaked a list of MPs and their loans at Bank of Cyprus to the press.

It showed that out of the 37 MPs listed, 19 owed Bank of Cyprus a total of €51.2m and 13 of those had non-performing loans totaling €35.3m.

At the time, furious MPs spoke of an attempt by the Central Bank to blackmail lawmakers through leaks to the press with information about their loan arrears.


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