Investigators in the probe into the collapse of credit unions in Cyprus heard testimony this week that political parties endorsed a sense of impunity among bank officials.
On Tuesday, former trustee Andreas Charitou, told the special tripartite investigative committee that a general mismanagement and impunity at the Cyprus Cooperative Bank were the root causes for the state authorities to step in.
Charitou, who served between March 2009 and October 2013, said some individuals who had political backing indulged themselves into sapping the co-op without any fear of repercussions.
“We tried as a central agent to operate as best as we could. But some credit unions had problems while there were certain officials who were trying to sap the Co-Op as much as they could,” the former trustee said.
Charitou told investigators that some criminal probe cases involving wrongdoing wouldn’t go forward because of politics
“There was impunity and the sense that they could do whatever they wanted without repercussions,” he said.
The committee asked Charitou whether the Central Bank of Cyprus was aware of the problems, with the official replying in the affirmative.
He told investigators that in some cases there were criminal probe cases involving wrongdoing that wouldn’t go forward because of politics.
“Those who were causing the problems in the Cooperative Bank had backing, political backing, political party backing from others who were probably taking decisions within the credit unions."
The former trustee said he had no proof that politicians and parties were putting pressure to halt criminal probes.
“This is a suspicion I have but I don’t have proof,” he said.
But Charitou also told investigators it was an open secret that credit unions “belonged” to different political factions at different times.