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Cyprus

President sends PEP list back to parliament (Update 2)

The list of politically exposed persons (PEPs) will not be made public for the time being, following President Nicos Anastasiades’ decision on Wednesday to refer the list back to parliament.

In what appears to be a developing game of pass the hot potato, Anastasiades in a letter to House President Demetris Syllouris cited the opinion of the attorney-general suggesting publishing the list would be incompatible with the current legal framework.

Deputy government spokesman Panayiotis Sentonas said there were two main issues.

Firstly, the constitution specifies that the president must sign parliamentary decisions. Publishing the PEP list however, under Article 52 does not fall under the term “decision” but is rather “an expression of political will” which the constitution does not have any provisions for, the AG opined.

At the same time, there is also a conflict on the separation of powers, Sentonas said, as on July 17 when MPs agreed to publish the list, House President Syllouris was also filling in the position of President of the Republic.

When the president is carrying out duties abroad, the House President is considered to be stepping into the president’s position.

The AG’s letter suggested parliament should not persist with publishing the list and review the decisions taken on July 17.

Meanwhile, the ad hoc committee dealing with list decided by a majority vote to extend their scope and review whether PEPs received any preferential treatment by banks from the period after April 2013.

Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis said this created a “terrible impression” as there was a complaint that in January 2013 loans belonging to PEPs and parties were deleted. The list was submitted to the central bank.

Investigating matters dating April 2013 forward will cut off the issue of the January 2013 list, Perdikis said, as he suggested setting the date beginning of 2013 or even earlier.

Asked what will now happen with the list, Syllouris said parliament would receive the president’s referral on Friday and it would be up to the parties, the committee and plenum to decide.

The list was prepared by former Central Bank chief Chrystalla Georghadji and delivered to the House president in April 2019.

The issue has been going back and forth since prompting suggestions that parties had something to hide. The PEP document includes data from Alpha, Eurobank, Hellenic, Bank of Cyprus, Kedipes and the Housing Finance Corporation.

MPs, some of which saw their names on the list, said the document was unreliable and incomplete while Georghadjis was accused of doing a shoddy job of preparing the data. Some MPs said they are in fact not in arrears on their loans or credit cards.

Georghadji dismissed the accusations arguing she delivered what she was asked, and that MPs had 17 months to ask for more details but never did.

The list of PEPs with non-performing loans had been discussed during an ad hoc committee and after much ado, MPs decided to publish the list some two weeks ago.

A disclaimer was then added, saying that the final decision should lie with Anastasiades who on Wednesday sent the list back to parliament.

 



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