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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-06-06

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, June 6, 2002


  • [01] Finance Minister 'stood by' as investors fell victim to fraud
  • [02] How political was the CSE report?
  • [03] Doctor jailed after Attorney-general appeals baby sale fine
  • [04] Verheugen reassures Cyprus over accession
  • [05] 'Let's face it England need all the help they can get'

  • [01] Finance Minister 'stood by' as investors fell victim to fraud

    By George Psyllides

    STOCK Market (CSE) investors fell victim to fraud because inadequate legislation was either not enforced or blatantly broken while the Finance Minister and Cabinet stood by, a House investigation into the 1999-2000 CSE fiasco revealed yesterday.

    The outline of the hefty 350-page report, which was released by the Chairmen of the joint House Watchdog and Finance Committees, placed the burden of the blame for the debacle on the shoulders of the Cabinet and Finance Minister, Takis Klerides, while CSE authorities, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Central Bank, the chairmen of the two biggest banks on the island, brokers, accountants and lawyers also received their share.

    The 22-page summary of the committees' findings said legislation concerning the CSE was either not enforced or broken by the relevant authorities, while companies which used false and misleading information were allowed to be listed on the CSE.

    The outline slammed brokers, who "came up with various tricks to control the market" or failed to process transactions in time, saying this could not only be blamed on their workload but on "fraud on behalf of brokers and companies with simple investors being the only victims."

    Another major factor was the peddling of misleading impressions - that there were huge and easy profits to be made - through public utterances by various financial circles, including the chairmen of the two largest banks - the Popular Bank and the Bank of Cyprus (BoC).

    "We blame the Chairmen of the two largest banks - Popular and BoC - for public statements that resulted in trapping investors who heeded their advice that it would have been wrong to sell their shares," House Watchdog Committee Chairman Christos Pourgourides said.

    The statements had been made at a time when the shares of both banks stood at over 10. Yesterday, they stood at 1.62 (BoC) and 1.31 (Popular Bank).

    "There is no excuse concerning the public and misleading statements made by the leaders of Cyprus' two banking giants that dragged investors in destructive actions," the report said.

    The Central Bank also had its share of responsibility, according to the outline, by contributing to inflated lending for share purchases.

    "The Central Bank contributed to the 'bubble climate' by allowing people to secure easy loans to buy shares," Pourgourides said.

    The Cabinet was also mentioned as being responsible as it had the authority to draw up and table legislation, but the heaviest blame went to Finance Minister Klerides, who was tasked with overseeing the CSE's operation as well as propose people for the board.

    "The Finance Minister was not effective in overseeing the CSE; its operation was left in the hands of the board and to a lesser extend the Securities and Exchange Commission," Pourgourides said.

    He added: "Overseeing bodies did not rise to the occasion; chairmen failed in their mission and effectively became the instruments of brokers who exploited their position to reap huge profits for themselves."

    According to the outline, the executive remained a mere observer of developments, while the ministry exhibited complete "passiveness and indifference".

    The findings of the investigation also assigned a degree of blame to politicians and state officials who were not in any way linked to the CSE, but who demonstrated a behaviour "unfitting to their office".

    "Parties, politicians, and state officials contributed to increasing the public frenzy of buying stock by acquiring shares through public placement or other profiteering activities," the outline said.

    Asked why the names of deputies and other politicians had not been made public by the committees, Pourgourides said he had studied the list and deemed it was not worth publishing.

    He ordered House staff, however, to make the list available to the media, adding it would be hard for anyone to track down ownership since deputies would have been stupid to use their own names in getting shares through private placement.

    Concerning the role of the authorities, Pourgourides explained that the legal service, Attorney-general and police had not been named in the report as contributors to the fiasco.

    "We do not blame the legal service or the Attorney-general or the police for contributing to the CSE catastrophe in the sense that their role was the same as that of brokers etc," Pourgourides said.

    "We say that because there were many offences and a lot of information, we expected that cases would have been brought before justice sooner; authorities could have been more efficient and in some cases we expected them to start investigations of their own accord," he added.

    The report also condemns those accountants and lawyers who were involved in listing companies using false prospectuses, resulting in the listing of "bubble companies" into the CSE.

    The media too received a mention for their reckless publications and broadcasts that exacerbated investors' "frenzy".

    The report also pointed out investors' ignorance of stock market issues, stressing though that relevant authorities had failed to educate them.

    The full report is to be made public in the coming days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [02] How political was the CSE report?

    By George Psyllides

    DESPITE assurances that politics had been kept out of the drafting of the CSE report, released in parliament yesterday, the reactions of two of those named in the report - Finance Minister Takis Klerides and Attorney-general Alecos Markides - suggested their inclusion had everything to do with politics.

    The report into the 1999 stock market bubble was drafted by the House Finance and Watchdog Committees. A summary of the 350-page report was given to journalists yesterday. It singled out Klerides for blame in the CSE fiasco, while Markides was censured for not moving fast enough to prosecute suspects and for failing to initiate investigations into the affair.

    Speaking before having seen the full outline, Klerides said he was disappointed by the outcome of the investigation, saying it appeared there had been an attempt to make political capital out of the matter, by adding, removing, or changing the findings to serve "some other interests".

    Klerides said he would first study the whole report before commenting further on the matter.

    Markides, on the other hand, said the issue had been handled unethically, saying the reference to him was unfair.

    He too said he had not seen the report, and was commenting on what had been said by the chairmen of the two House committees tasked with investigating the fiasco.

    "This, however, is not a consolation for me because we are talking about an issue they had never asked me about," Markides said.

    He added that he had appeared before the committees, but the issue of his responsibility had never been tabled.

    Asked whether he felt the move to name him was politically motivated, Markides said it was not for him to judge. But he added that during the committees' final meeting, several deputies had officially raised the issue of adding such a paragraph to the report.

    Markides said he understood that the initiative to include him had come from AKEL deputies backed by DIKO.

    "If AKEL and DIKO had not insisted in including something on the Attorney- general, the report would have absolutely nothing about the Attorney- general; DISY effectively compromised," Markides said.

    But the Chairman of the House Watchdog Committee, DISY deputy Christos Pourgourides, was adamant politics had been kept out of the report.

    "There were no politics involved in drafting the report and the impression that there was horse-trading between deputies is false," he said.

    "There was no horse trading and no violation of any principles in order to arrive at a unanimous conclusion."

    But commentators yesterday insisted Markides had been targeted by AKEL and DIKO in an effort to tarnish his image in the run-up to the 2003 presidential elections.

    Though he has not yet thrown his name in the hat, Markides is seen as a potential DISY candidate.

    Yesterday, Markides repeated that he would not comment on the presidential elections, adding he had not announced his candidacy, and saying it was up to the people to decide if his inclusion in the report had been political.

    The findings of the two committees, the first official report on the CSE fiasco, are set to provide an important weapon for opposition parties during the election campaign.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [03] Doctor jailed after Attorney-general appeals baby sale fine

    A 37-year-old gynecologist has been jailed for four months after the Supreme Court overturned an earlier fine of 3,750 for his role in four illegal adoption cases.

    Giorgos Evripides was found guilty and fined in January this year, a month after he was arrested when police found he had arranged for a pregnant Romanian woman to come to Cyprus as an artiste and later arranged for the baby to be handed to a childless Greek couple who paid 10,000.

    During the course of the investigations, it emerged that Evripides had been implicated in three similar cases involving three Romanian women and had received in total almost 17,000.

    He was fined 3,750 for the offence, a sentence deemed too lenient by Attorney-general Alecos Markides, who appealed against it the Supreme Court, which issued its verdict on Tuesday.

    The Court ruled that Evripides had used his medical knowledge illegally for profit to satisfy childless couples, not to assist in the adoption of children. "What he did was to trade in unborn babies for adoption," the Court ruled.

    During the initial trial, Evirpides also had his medical licence suspended for a year.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [04] Verheugen reassures Cyprus over accession

    EUROPEAN Union Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen has assured Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides that Cyprus will be one of 10 applicant countries to be invited to join the Union at the Copenhagen summit in December.

    Speaking in Brussels after a meeting with Verheugen, Cassoulides said the German Commissioner had also said that the EU Helsinki decision that a political settlement in Cyprus would facilitate accession but it was not a precondition for membership was still valid.

    "We had an excellent meeting, a useful encounter, during which Verheugen reiterated the position that Cyprus would be included in the first 10 candidate countries that could join the EU following a European Council decision in December," the minister said.

    The Helsinki decision also said that "all relevant factors" would be taken into consideration when the EU came to decide on Cyprus' accession, and called on Turkey to contribute to the solution of the problem.

    "There is one way Turkey can halt the accession of a divided Cyprus and this is by contributing to reunite the island," Cassoulides said.

    Cassoulides said it was very important to hear Verheugen delivering such a clear-cut message on the Helsinki ruling. He said he had also discussed ways in which the EU could contribute to the success of the direct talks.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

    [05] 'Let's face it England need all the help they can get'

    By Soteris Charalambous

    URI Geller, world famous spoon bender, will be in Ayia Napa on Friday trying to boost England's chances of victory against Argentina in their World Cup group match by broadcasting a last-minute prayer session on local radio.

    Speaking from his home in the UK, Geller said: "I have just returned from Japan. England do need help. I will try and channel positive energy through the radio broadcast. I believe all people are connected, so I am confident it will help."

    Geller, 54, has held a strong association with football. He recently bought Exeter City Football Club and, according to his personal website, has previously been hired by Premiership football clubs to coach players. Shooting to fame in the 70s through his metal mangling antics, his career has spanned wiping KGB files, tracking serial killers and even attending disarmament negotiations to influence delegates with positive waves.

    The transmission will be broadcast live by Radio Napa 90.9FM at 2pm, 30 minutes before the game. Presenter Nathan Morley said yesterday: "Let's face it England need all the help they can get."

    England drew their opening game against Sweden in a disappointing display last Sunday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002

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