Investigations into huge bank bonuses will carry on despite the Attorney General raising concerns, chairman of the House Institutions Committee Demetris Syllouris said yesterday.
Commenting on Costas Clerides’ concerns that discussions could harm the criminal probe looking into the near collapse of the banking system, Syllouris said that regulations are respected to such an extent that the committee is often accused of not releasing information.
The Attorney General has described the work of the committee on the banks as ‘dangerous’ for the on going criminal investigation. He also said that former Laiki CEO Andreas Vgenopoulos should not have been summoned to testify before the committee.
But Syllouris said the invitation to Vgenopoulos will not be cancelled and that the will appear before the committee on December 13.
“If these are indeed the Attorney General’s views, then he needs to give the committee specific and not vague advice,” said Syllouris.
He added that the AG could have expressed his concerns directly to the committee and not via television.
It was revealed during a committee meeting on Tuesday that executives of now defunct Laiki in Cyprus and Greece had received bonuses worth €52 million between 2007 and 2012, after the bank merged with Greece’s Marfin.
The bank’s administrator Andri Antoniadou said that Laiki was used as a large ‘piggy bank’ for top executives to use as they wanted ‘to make their dreams come true’ and that the bank’s managers were not qualified bankers.
Former Laiki CEO Andreas Vgenopoulos lashed back at Antoniadou saying that all bank executives came from top banks and warned the administrator that further criminal charges will be added to the already pending lawsuit against her.
Syllouris wondered whether those who received the large bonuses still played a role in today’s banking system and called on the authorities to look into the issue immediately.
Opposition Akel MP Irene Charalambidou questioned whether the supervisory authority knew about the bonuses Laiki officials were receiving, even as the bank collapsed.
She said that while bonuses are given for reaching targets around the world, there is no such premise in Cyprus and stressed that internal audit reports on loans given in Greece were almost non-existent.
Akel MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou said yesterday that he has sent the new information to the European Commission, to examine whether the amounts given in bonuses should be returned by including a specific clause in a revised memorandum.
“Some people took what thousands of families could never make after decades of hard work. This was done by people who knew or should have known better than anyone the situation at the bank, if not the entire Cypriot economy,” said Hadjigeorgiou.
The MEP made indirect references to Vgenopoulos, who has been accused of buying Laiki to destroy it.
“I believe that a large part of the catastrophe we are facing was caused because one man from Greece managed to buy out a few dozen Cypriots with a flexible conscience.”
Greens MP George Perdikis also shared the view that returning the money should be the minimum penalty for those who received large bonuses.
“Some of these people participated in House Finance Committee meetings to suggest measures to save the banks and the economy. They had the audacity to advise us and unfortunately we put up with it.”