Cypriot committee suspends probe into bank transfers list

Tue Apr 9, 2013 8:36am EDT
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By Karolina Tagaris

NICOSIA (Reuters) - A parliamentary committee looking into who transferred money out of Cyprus before the island's banking system was locked down in March suspended its probe on Tuesday, complaining of not being given all the data it had demanded from the central bank.

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.   Continued...

A man withdraws money from an ATM at a branch of Bank of Cyprus in Bucharest April 1, 2013. REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel