Cyprus Mail

Parliamentary committee looking into PEPs fails to reach agreement on remit

The ad hoc parliamentary committee set up to investigate loan write-offs to Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) met for the second time on Tuesday, but again failed to reach a consensus on the timeline of its probe.

Chaired by House President Demetris Syllouris, the committee is officially mandated to begin its probe starting from April 30, 2013 – the date on which parliament ratified a bailout deal between the Cyprus government and international creditors.

But some MPs on the committee want the terms of reference to date back to January 2013; others still would like the investigation to be open-ended, timewise, in relation to loan write-offs.

As such, the panel’s precise terms of reference are still up in the air. It will meet again on Wednesday.

On Tuesday it did however briefly discuss one item of business – whether the Central Bank can lawfully pass on to the committee data regarding the loans of PEPs.

This would need clearance from the EU’s Single Supervisory Mechanism, since some of the Cypriot banks involved with the loans in question are classed as ‘systemic lenders’.

The Single Supervisory Mechanism is the legislative and institutional framework that grants the European Central Bank sole licensing authority over all banks in participating EU member states and makes it the prudential supervisor of these banks.

Syllouris read out a letter addressed to the ad hoc committee by data protection commissioner Irini Loizidou Nicolaidou, who informed parliament of potential privacy issues in the divulging – even to parliament – of loan information pertaining to PEPs.

Nicolaidou has already queried the Central Bank on the issue.

The ad hoc committee emerged after a round of debates in parliament over the non-performing loans of PEPs based on a list handed over by the former Central Bank chief in April 2019.

MPs said the list was incomplete but decided it should be published anyway. However, they also left the final decision to publish to President Nicos Anastasiades.

The ad hoc committee will continue discussing bad loans held by PEPs, but its remit will be expanded to include loan write-offs or preferential treatment as well.

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