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Our View: MPs are strangely reluctant to discuss bad loan list of PEPs

AKEL deputy Irini Charalambidou

AKEL deputy Irini Charalambidou will not be very popular among her colleagues after making a fuss about the list of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) with non-performing loans (NPLs) that has been travelling between the legislature and Central Bank without the names ever being made public. The fact that the list existed was made public, however, and ever since a code of silence appears to have been adopted by our representatives, who are normally happy to make a fuss about the most inconsequential triviality.

Not on this matter however. The publication of the list would expose many of them to the people and could shed light on their continuous efforts to block the foreclosures bill when Cyprus was in the assistance programme. Perhaps this opposition, and the attempts to make the foreclosures law ineffective was not guided by any real concerns about the plight of house-owners, as they constantly claimed at the time, but by self-interest. This may be the cynical view, but as long as the legislature is trying to sweep the matter under the carpet, we are entitled to think the worst.

The list had been given to House president Demetris Syllouris by former governor of the Central Bank Chrystalla Georghadji before she was to leave her post. At his first meeting with the new governor Constantinos Herodotou, Syllouris returned the list to him asking him to carry out additional investigations. He cited some ridiculous reasons to justify his request – some of the people on the list had passed away while others had NPLs of a couple of thousand euros that were just unpaid credit card bills. Suspicions were raised that Syllouris wanted the matter hushed up.

This happened last April. In a letter Herodotou sent to Syllouris in July he explained the Central Bank was obliged to deliver the list to the legislature or a House committee if it was requested. A second letter followed in late November, but again nobody in the legislature showed any interest in asking for it. If it came to the House, it would have to be discussed and made public, which deputies quite clearly did not want to happen.

Charalambidou decided to take the initiative, as the chairman of the House watchdog committee, Zacharias Koulias showed no interest in formally requesting the list from the Central Bank. As vice-chairperson of the committee, Charalambidou has appealed to other members to make a decision on the matter, “so we are not left exposed before public opinion.” The truth is the entire legislature, not just the watchdog committee, will be exposed before public opinion if nobody takes delivery of the list and discloses its contents.

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