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PEPs with bad debts at former co-op published

A Woman Makes Transaction At An Atm Outside A Branch Of Co Op Bank In Nicosia,
Kedipes began operation in September 2018 to manage the non-performing assets of the former state-owned Cooperative Bank

Parliament on Monday published a list of the names of politically exposed persons (PEPs) with bad debts at the former co-op bank, which includes mostly former MPs but also a few sitting ones.

The list, uploaded on parliament’s website, includes 22 names of individuals, eight companies, one trade union and one football club. Its publication was delayed by a couple of hours after the legislature’s website had been attacked by hackers.

The list is part of an audit service report into Kedipes, the entity that replaced the co-op, and took over some €7.5 billion in non-performing loans.

According to the report, PEPs had substantial loan amounts written off or swapped debt for assets of lower value, among others.

The audit service identified PEP cases involving €4.2m in write-offs, €3m in loan balances that would be written off under certain conditions, and €4.9m in debt for asset swaps.

The audit focused on 161 PEPs, 783 close relatives, and 49 connected companies.

The service had said that its report did not imply that the PEPs involved had engaged in inappropriate behaviour or had received preferential treatment.

The personal data commissioner had ruled that publication of the list would be a violation but under the weight of public opinion, parliament was forced to publish it, exposing MPs to unwarranted criticism in some cases.

Parliament had also earlier published a list of PEPs with bad debts at commercial banks.

The report covered the period after 2013, when the co-op was nationalised with around €1.7bn in taxpayer money, only to be shuttered three years later due to bad management and its failure to recover €7.6bn in non-performing loans or exposures.

The report said because it would have been practically impossible to audit the period before 2013 within a reasonable timeframe, the audit service decided to focus on PEPs who had been audited for tax reasons.

Specifically, the service examined facilities extended to living individuals who held the office of president of the Republic, minister, MPs, between 2008 and 2019, or party leaders. Based on the criteria, a list of 161 people was drafted, along with their parents, spouses and children, and the companies linked with them.

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