6,000 individuals and companies transferred several million euros outside Cyprus during the first two weeks of March, even hours before the two-weeks long closing of the banking system on March 15th 2013. A list with these names was handed out by the Central bank to a parliamentary committee assigned to investigate the issue on suspicion that some depositors knew in advance about the decision to close down the banks for more than a week.
However, the joy about the list did not last long. The parliamentary committee looking into who transferred money out of Cyprus suspended its probe on Tuesday, complaining of not being given all the data it had demanded from the central bank. Data of money transfers for a whole year.
Then the parliamentary committee wants to investigate as well what loans were given to whom and under which conditions but also if and what loans were written-off.
“Underscoring tensions in relations between the central bank and Cyprus’s one-month-old center-right government, the government also withdrew the appointment of the deputy central bank governor who supplied the data.
Spyros Stavrinakis’s appointment, made by the previous communist administration, was based on “faulty legal reasoning,” the government said.
Cypriot banks were shut down for nearly two weeks to prevent a run on deposits by panicked savers after a bailout deal Cyprus struck with the European Union to save it from bankruptcy forced depositors with more than 100,000 euros to bear part of the cost.
Banks reopened on March 28 under tight restrictions and a cash withdrawal limit of 300 euros per day, but disclosures that capital was shifted out of the Mediterranean island in the runup to the lockdown on March 15 fuelled public anger.
The head of the Cypriot parliament’s ethics committee, which was due to look into a list detailing transfers of more than 100,000 euros from the two major banks – Bank of Cyprus and Cyprus Popular Bank – said on Tuesday that the list fell short of what he had requested.
“It was with great disappointment and anger that, when we opened the envelope, we realized it contained data for only 15 days even though we had asked for a year,” lawmaker Demetris Syllouris told reporters. “This kind of behavior is unacceptable.”
In a letter to Syllouris, then central bank deputy governor Stavrinakis said he was only attaching a list of individuals and companies who transferred money out of Cyprus between March 1-15 this year.
“We believe your request would lead to a huge volume of information, which would possibly not help the aim of your committee,” Stavrinakis said. This included foreign companies that transfer large sums of money each day, as well as Cypriots who bought property, he said.
Syllouris said the ethics committee had requested a list of who transferred money dating back to a year because it wanted to look into possible loans given with favorable terms. He expressed doubt that the list he received, which included the names of about 6,000 individuals and companies that shifted money abroad, was complete.
“The wording of the letter has caused concern that not all names are included,” he said.
Asked if it included the names of politicians or political parties, Syllouris said: “When we study it we will let you know.” (Full Story here)