Former central bank governor Chrystalla Georghadji hit back on Thursday at detractors of a list of names of politically exposed persons (PEPs) with non-performing loans, saying there was an effort afoot to dismiss the document, which she had submitted to parliament at their request in April 2019.
House president Demetris Syllouris, who heads an ad hoc committee dealing with the matter, has dismissed the list as unreliable and devoid of information the MPs wanted, relating to possible favourable treatment of PEPs.
The PEP document – marked ‘confidential’ – was first delivered to Syllouris by Georghadji in April of 2019 just before she stepped down.
Syllouris then returned it to her successor, Constantinos Herodotou, arguing that the former governor had not followed proper procedure. After a lot of back and forth, the list returned to parliament last week, only to be dismissed as unreliable and incomplete.
Responding to criticism, Georghadji said the list had been around for 17 months but no one asked for anything else.
The list includes data from six banks, Alpha, Eurobank, Hellenic, Bank of Cyprus, Kedipes and the House financing organisation. The data from five are dated December 31, 2018. Kedipes’ data are not dated.
The former governor said she told MPs that the data had not undergone processing.
“Parliament knew there was no processing. Since it is known, why have they remembered 17 months later that the data they had asked for had not been submitted?” she told Sigma TV.
Georghadji said the new governor has been in office for the past 17 months but MPs had not asked for any new information.
“Let’s say Georghadji did not do her job well, why didn’t parliament follow up? The response I’ve been getting is than nothing new was requested.”
She said she was ashamed of the sorry current state of affairs, of accusing the central banker of a country of putting together slapdash documents.
Georghadji said the list was put together by the banks, stressing that the central bank could not be the judge of a client’s behaviour.
The way parliament handled the matter has raised suspicions that MPs and other PEPs were trying to hide something. The delay in resolving the matter is fuelling further scepticism.
She said the central bank could not determine whether a PEP had received favourable treatment by a commercial bank.
“I sent the House president confidentially whatever the finance committee had asked inside three months.”
She said a PEP on the list may not have an NPL currently because they have repaid them.
Diko’s Christiana Erotokritou appears to be one such case. She is among 15 MPs whose names are on the list.
The MP found her name on the list for around €3,611 she owed her Bank of Cyprus credit card.
Erotokritou vehemently denied having an NPL, adding that the sum was her credit card (€17,500 limit) balance at the end of December 2018 which she had paid off on the due date.
Erotokritou suggested her inclusion on the list was blatantly wrong, adding that she would be demanding answers and possibly go to court.
Asked about this, Georghadji said a credit card balance that remained unpaid for 90 days is considered an NPL unless “in Cyprus we want to give it a different definition therefore we can ask the European Central Bank to allow us.”
Parliament will decide on Friday whether to publish the list as is or if it will be updated before doing so.
Ruling Disy said it would vote in favour of publishing the list immediately while main opposition Akel said it has not decided what to do yet, although observers suggested it would go against.