Cyprus leader vows nobody immune from bank probe
The Cypriot president pledged Monday that not even his own family will be immune from a commission of inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing in the run-up to a crippling eurozone bailout.
President Nicos Anastasiades was responding to allegations that family members of leading politicians had taken advantage of privileged information to protect their assets from a hit on bank deposits imposed by European Union-led creditors last month.
Anastasiades said the panel, which is to start its work on Tuesday, would have explicit terms of reference to exclude nobody from their investigations, even his own extended family.
"I want to emphasise that during tomorrow's swearing in ceremony for the three distinguished judges, they be given a mandate to investigate everything that is possibly related to me, including those relatives linked to me by marriage," he said.
The massive losses suffered by savers in the island's two largest banks in the first eurozone rescue package to punish larger depositors has sparked huge resentment against anybody seen as having taken unfair advantage to shirk their share of the burden.
Big depositors in largest lender Bank of Cyprus (BoC) face losses of up to 60 percent, while those in second lender Laiki will have to wait years to see any of their money as the bank is wound up with the loss of thousands of jobs.
The government said on Monday it was looking to free up the remaining 40 percent of BoC deposits of more than 100,000 euros that are not frozen as part of the bailout agreed with the "troika" of the EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
"Our aim is to hopefully release the 40 percent tomorrow morning in order to get a basic level of normal business activity going," said government spokesman Christos Stylianides.
"We want to convince everyone connected to this freezing (the troika) that freezing cannot continue on the 40 percent capital of businesses."
Allegations have swirled of big movements of cash out of both banks in the run-up to the bailout agreement as those in the know scrambled to protect their money.
The panel, which has three months to report its findings, will also probe a list published by Greek media of Cypriot politicians who allegedly had loans forgiven during the meltdown, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said last week.
BoC, Laiki and third largest lender Hellenic Bank reportedly forgave millions of euros in loans over the past five years to lawmakers, companies and local authorities, newspapers in Greece have alleged.
Cypriot banks have been operating with stringent capital controls since they reopened on Thursday, after a near two-week lockdown prompted by fears of a run on deposits