The Chairman of the Tripartite Committee for the Collapse of the Co-operation George Arestis and the Auditor General Odysseas Michailidis.
For her part, the Minister of Justice and Public Order Emily Giolitis stated that the Ministry is in no way involved in the investigations of the Police, noting that the only one involved is the Chief of Police in cooperation with the Legal Service. All MPs are in favor of the need for the investigations to proceed quickly and for responsibilities to be attributed to the collapse of the Bank.
Speaking within the Committee, Mr. Arestis initially said that the Parliament should have been interested in the conclusion earlier, taking into account the “disparaging attitude” of the Government, namely the President of the Republic, Nikos Anastasiadis. According to Mr. Arestis, President Anastasiadis had wondered why he should consider a report because it was made by three judges. He added that the President had said that the members of the Investigative Committee are like the medical examiners who made a mistake in the case of the woman in Paphos, who was eaten by dogs. When Mr. Arestis was asked if President Anastasiadis said these things to him, he replied that he said them publicly and that is why he knows them.
Mr. Arestis then referred to the political responsibilities attributed to the conclusion by the former Minister of Finance, Haris Georgiadis, who stated, when the state proceeded to the concession of 1.5 billion to the Co-operation, that he could be a key pillar of banking system. He wondered how it is possible after these optimistic statements to reach the sell-off of cooperation and in fact, as he said, Mr. Georgiadis “to triumph over this sell-off”.
Mr. Arestis then referred to bad corporate governance as a factor that contributed to the collapse of cooperation, focusing on the negative role of the former General Manager of the Cooperative Bank of Cyprus (SKT) Nikola Hatzigiannis, who was appointed on political grounds. As he said, “his friend” Harry Georgiadis, Nikolas Hatzigiannis was “extremely inappropriate” and had a devastating role in the collapse of the Co-operation. He stated that Mr. Hatzigiannis had been disciplined twice by the Bank of Cyprus, from which he eventually left, and did not have the qualifications.
He noted that both the Central Bank of Cyprus and the European Central Bank warned that in the matter of corporate governance the Cooperative was not doing well, ringing the alarm bell. He noted that criminal offenses as well as civil liability should be investigated against Mr. Hatzigiannis. Mr. Arestis also assigned responsibilities to the Strategy Director of SKT Giannos Stavrinidis.
Due to poor corporate governance, Mr. Arestis added, no progress was made on Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) while reckless expenses were incurred, with advertising as well as corporate cards.
Regarding the NES, the Chairman of the three-member committee said that Mr. Karounas was in charge, who supported the idea to promote the company Altamira for the settlement of these red loans. Today, he said, Mr. Kourounas is the Director of Altamira. He spoke of a “big meal to the detriment of the people” with the involvement of Altamira as real estate worth 100 thousand euros, for example, was valued at 20 thousand due to the inability of the owner and a bankrupt borrower to proceed with his own assessment.
He said that the conclusion suggests the examination of criminal liability by Mr. Kourounas for the methods promoted by Altamira, while criminal and disciplinary liabilities may also exist against Mr. Hatzigiannis for Altamira for intentional acts and omissions.
Following the session of the Parliament, the Auditor General initially referred to the “scandalous recruitment of Mr. Hatzigiannis” and to the opaque procedures that were followed. He said that after the hiring of Mr. Hatzigiannis, worthy executives of the Cooperative, such as Marios Clerides, were forced to resign.
Odysseas Michailidis then referred to the periods that the research on Cooperation should be divided into a landmark in 2013. Then, as he said, the Government convinced the EU that the Cooperation is sustainable and for this it accepted a state aid of 1.5 billion. Two years later, the Government made a plan that the Co-operation needs another 175 million and nothing more with the plan being that from 2020 onwards the Bank would start the privatization.
As he said, in 2015 the Cooperative was estimated at 625 million and together with the 175 million of state support its total value amounted to 800 million. The Bank, he added, was theoretically sold at the end of 74 million euros and the state at the end of day he took nothing, and may have given. The Co-operation was sold “aron aron muhtin” and with the pistol in the temple. He explained that when something is sold under these conditions, a negative goodwill is created and therefore the sale is made below the real value. But then Hellenic Bank calculated the value normally by presenting the difference as a profit.
In her own intervention in the Parliamentary Audit Committee, the Minister of Justice Emily Giolitis clearly stated that her Ministry is in no way involved in the investigations of the Police, pointing out that the only one involved in the investigations is the Chief of Police, who acts in cooperation and under the guidance of the Attorney General.
Ms. Gioliti said that she requested information from the Chief and was assured that the investigation of the Cooperation cases is proceeding rapidly by a special investigative team, under the supervision of the Attorney General.
Assistant Chief of Police Christoforos Mavrommatis, speaking before the Commission, said that 13 police officers are working in the investigations and the workload is huge, as the investigation is extremely difficult since they start from the beginning of the conclusion of the suspicious loans.
Mr. Mavrommatis said that the investigations focus on the provision of credit facilities to 27 people, former officials of the Cooperative Credit Institutions, on the write-offs of loans amounting to 26 million for 18 Groups, consisting of legal entities and individuals. Also, the provision of loans to Politically Exposed Persons will be under investigation. As he said, this investigation will be done by the Auditor General, who will give his findings to the Police to continue from that point. Research also includes advertising, service market and Altamira.
The representative of the Legal Service, Ninos Kekkou, said for his part that the work is complex and the cases are extremely difficult.
As for the MPs, the Chairman of the Audit Committee, Zacharias Koulias, said that our ancestors created the Co-operation 100 years ago to get rid of the usurers and today we returned to the usurers. He added that the sins of the Co-operation were 70 million euros, while for Laiki the taxpayers paid 2.5 billion euros. He also called on the Minister to be informed about the progress of the investigations because the Commission will require information from her.
DISY MP Annita Dimitriou stressed that everything must be controlled and all those who have responsibilities should be brought to justice.
AKEL Parliamentary Representative George Loukaidis said, among other things, that the Cooperative was sold out in order to save the other banks.
The President of DIKO, Nikolas Papadopoulos, complained that the Cooperative was also acquiring the Media. It is sad and outrageous, he said, because the investigations have not progressed and no one has been prosecuted so far, neither criminally nor civilly. There are, he noted, clear political responsibilities.
Solidarity MP Michalis Giorgallas called on the Ministry of Justice to strengthen the investigative team and use specialized external experts to document the crimes. Giorgos Iliadis, a representative of the Ecologists, complained that representatives of major parties participated in the management of the Co-operation, while ELAM MP Linos Papagiannis spoke about responsibilities in the Government and the four major political parties.