Cyprus Mail

Window closing fast for civil lawsuits in co-op demise

File photo: Co-op bank

Lawmakers heard Thursday that the window was fast closing for the filing of civil lawsuits over the demise of the co-operative bank, while the police said their criminal probe into the affair was progressing but was complicated.

The House watchdog committee were hearing from the head of the committee of inquiry that issued a report into the collapse of the co-op two years ago.

To date, no lawsuits have been filed over the affair.

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides told MPs of a law where the statute of limitations for civil liability expires in three years after the event in question.

He said that as it stands, there now remain just two months for any civil lawsuits to be filed.

For his part, deputy police chief Christoforos Mavrommatis briefed legislators on the course of criminal investigations into the affair.

He said the 13 officers assigned to the task have to deal with a massive amount of materials, making their work “extremely difficult.”

The police have split their investigation into different tracks that include: clients of the now-defunct co-op having received loans on preferential terms; loan write-offs; loans issued to politically exposed persons; and waste in advertising expenditures.

So far police have tracked some €66m in loan write-offs.

A representative of the attorney-general’s office – who would prosecute were evidence of criminal malfeasance to be found – asserted that the criminal investigations are at “an advanced stage.”

In 2018 the co-op agreed to sell its operations to Hellenic after its failure to reduce its stock of non-performing assets practically forced it out of business.

The state-run co-op was sold for pennies on the dollar, resulting in massive losses for taxpayers.

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