Numbness gives way to anger in Cyprus over bailout
By Michele Kambas and Karolina Tagaris
NICOSIA (Reuters) - Public shock in Cyprus about the tough terms of an international bailout is turning into anger as millions of euros remain locked in the country's banks.
Cypriots were stunned by last month's collapse of its second-biggest lender, Popular Bank, and a decision to slap losses on large deposits at the Bank of Cyprus in return for financial aid from the European Union and IMF.
They are now demanding answers after allegations earlier this week that a company connected to the family of President Nicos Anastasiades shifted money out of one of the distressed lenders just before the banking system was effectively locked down on March 15.
Anger and impatience is rising as the results of an official inquiry into what caused the crisis, and exactly who knew what and when, is unlikely to be ready for weeks.
Banks reopened last week but Cypriots can withdraw only 300 euros ($390) a day under a range of controls imposed to prevent panicked residents from emptying their accounts or moving all their savings abroad. Anxiety is being deepened by confusion over how the hastily-imposed rules should operate.
Hundreds of bank workers protested outside parliament on Thursday, worried that they could lose much of their pension savings under the terms of the bailout deal. This stipulates that some depositors have to bear part of the rescue's cost if their accounts hold more than 100,000 euros ($128,500).
"I am disappointed and angry," said Iacovos Louca, 53, who works at Popular Bank, which is being wound down under the 10 billion deal with the EU and International Monetary Fund. "The politicians are out of touch with our problems and the big guys, who had the information, managed to take their money abroad."
A copy of a bank statement, first published in the Cypriot communist newspaper Haravghi which maintains it is genuine, shows a company whose owners are related to the president by marriage moving money out of Popular in early March. Continued...