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House ready to ask banks whether certain PEPs received favourable treatment

Demetris Syllouris

Parliament will turn to the auditor-general, the central bank, and the financial ombudsman to find out whether any politically exposed persons (PEPs) had received favourable treatment with their loans, it has emerged.

House president Demetris Syllouris said they would also ask the auditor-general to inform them about any investigations into the financial system and whether he would be examining the legitimacy of a list that contains the names of PEPs with bad debts that the former central bank governor had given parliament.

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

The list was returned to the central bank and then back to parliament, which set up an ad hoc committee to decide whether to publish it. Parliament voted to publish it but then didn’t citing personal data laws.

According to Syllouris, the ad hoc committee was now planning to investigate whether any PEPs had received preferential treatment in their dealing with banks, including loans on better terms, debt write-offs, debt for asset swaps, and so on.

The committee will also look into whether any PEPs were involved with banks, especially sitting MPs.

Of the so-called Georghadji list, Syllouris asked banks to tell the committee what data she had asked them to disclose and what they sent to her in the end.

Central bank governor Constantinos Herodotou told MPs that loan write-offs should be examined according to the policy of each bank at the time.

“Write-offs is one of the available tools and depends on whether it was justified or not by the case or whether there was preferential treatment,” he said.

The central bank instructions stress that this was the ultimate took that a bank should use when it was deciding on loan restructuring.

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