Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose*

(*The more change, the more things stay the same) 

11 June 2015

 A letter from a Limassol law firm sent to FBME staff on behalf of the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) and its Administrator reminds employees of their obligation not to engage in the disclosure of information to the media and in particular to one website (whichever that may be). It actually describes such disclosures as ‘leaks’, a description redolent of Watergate or the fight against totalitarian dictatorship.

The letter threatens recipients with reprimands, termination and even legal action. Tough stuff!

Bizarrely, the lawyers sent the letter not just to staff of the Cyprus branch of FBME, over whom the CBC has some measure of control, but also to employees of the Head Office and of the Moscow representative office, who cannot be dismissed either by the CBC or its Administrator. In fact, the Administrator cannot dismiss anyone. So what was going on there then?

Obviously, they are a little paranoid about this website, It is worth reminding ourselves why it was set up. As we often make clear, this was done to let light in on the murky antics of the CBC when they and their agents would give no explanation on why they took the action they did in foisting resolution measures on FBME’s Cyprus branch, nor on the attempts to damage the branch, the Bank and its customers ever since. All they said was that they intended to sell the branch and that any measures they took were to help depositors.

They have never provided more information than this: no rationale on why they have prevented depositors having full and unfettered access to their own money; no plan for the future; no reassurance to depositors or staff; no explanation why the CBC has sought to commandeer deposits; no reason for first freezing and then unfreezing particular accounts; no explanation for why their actions have put people out of work in third party companies; no public response to FBME’s offer to work together. And so on. In short: no transparency and certainly no support for free speech.