FBME Renews Fight Against Expropriation of Cyprus Branch

22 October 2014

FBME Limited has renewed its commitment to fight all efforts by the Central Bank of Cyprus to expropriate and sell the Cyprus branch of its Bank.

The holding company issued a statement following the first day (21 October) of the scheduled hearing of its interim application by the District Court of Nicosia to disallow a sale of its branch. The hearing continues.

FBME Limited strongly opposes the sale, which it regards as a hostile takeover and an illegal act. “The Central Bank should wait until the case is heard at the International Arbitral Tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, which is shortly to get underway,” it said in its statement.

The proposed sale was announced unilaterally by the Central Bank of Cyprus when it imposed Resolution measures on 21 July 2014. The measures blatantly contradict the terms of the Lebanese-Cyprus Convention of 5 June 2002 (law number 399) which prohibits any nationalisation or expropriation of the assets of the citizens of either country. Article 12 of the Convention states clearly that in any dispute the parties should endeavour to settle amicably.

In the view of FBME Limited, the Central Bank of Cyprus’s action has been arbitrary and an abuse of its own Resolution Decree, which is meant to be used where banks are facing serious insolvency issues. FBME says this Decree has been used to damage its customers and the reputation of the Bank. It has already caused the suspension of FBME Card Services and the redundancy of 75 Card Services’ employees. The Decree has been made unilaterally and without regard to the superior rights of FBME Bank’s home supervisor, the Bank of Tanzania.

The actions of the Central Bank of Cyprus were made following allegations of money laundering against FBME Bank by the US Department of the Treasury’s FinCEN bureau, announced on 17 July. FBME Bank was given until 22 September to respond, which it has done and a copy of the public comment that accompanied this response is available on this website under ‘About Us’.

FinCEN is studying FBME’s response and is expected to issue final decisions in coming weeks. FBME Limited believes the decision to press on with a sale of the Cyprus branch cuts across its rights to be granted a proper hearing by FinCEN.

In addition, FBME believes that the Central Bank’s actions are damaging to Cyprus and its reputation as an international business centre and will attract further legal action as these measures begin to be contested in local and international courts.