The Interesting Last Day of Dinos Christofides

23 June 2015

When Dinos Christofides walked out of the FBME branch on Friday 15 May 2015 he made it clear to those to whom he spoke that he was far from pleased at the way he had been treated by the Central Bank of Cyprus. Immediately prior to his departure – and before the owners, directors or management of the Bank had been informed that he was going – it seems he had three overwhelming priorities.

The first of these was to have himself paid his stipend up to his last day. As he controlled the purse strings and the chequebook this was not difficult, although it is worth bearing in mind that this EUR 5,000 cheque – half his monthly takings – was 25 times higher than he permitted any depositor to withdraw of their own funds on a single day.

The second thing was to collect money from the branch for the VAT obligations he owed the Republic’s tax department backdated to the first day of his appointment as the CBC’s Administrator. Again, there was no problem for him as he simply wrote out a cheque to himself. What wasn’t so clear was why he thought the Bank should meet this obligation when nothing was explained on this matter in his public appointment.

The third of his priorities was to call management of the branch to a meeting to explain his abrupt departure. He presented the view that he had done his best while Administrator and had disagreements with the Resolution Committee and Unit, presumably in the shape of Michalis Stylianou. He excused himself from the malicious and vindictive treatment that had been meted out to FBME by the CBC and used the hoary old defense that he was only following orders. Now that he was being replaced by a second Administrator paid five times his remuneration, the resentment had boiled up, as was apparent to all who attended the meeting. He must have wondered if he was being set up as a scapegoat for when the consequences of the maladministration of FBME would finally come to court!

We cannot be privy to the discussions between the CBC and Christofides any more than the rationale governing the actions of the Cyprus authorities has been ever made clear. If the CBC eschews the transparency that the Ethics Committee of the Cyprus Parliament and the ICC have demanded, it is unlikely to shine light on the machinations inflicted on its paid agents who they feel they can kick around like a football.

It is probable that Christofides was shocked with the appointment of a liquidator as a second ‘Administrator’ – it doesn’t look like the Resolution Unit in the sole form of Michalis Stylianou was transparent with him – and he probably read the writing on the wall. At best, he may have thought, he was being set up to be a ‘Patsy’, a person upon whom the blame for something falls. He wouldn’t have liked that and so he packed his bags, left his iPad and iPhone, and departed stage left at something near terminal velocity.

Mr Christofides’ walk-out clearly came as a surprise to Andrew Andronikou and his number two, David Voskou, who happened to be in Cyprus on the following Monday, (Andrew Andronikou was outside Cyprus). In fruity language which he shared with several members of FBME staff David Voskou, still clueless as to the nature of his CBC masters, lambasted the first Administrator for not passing on a hand-over report. As was discovered later, Mr Christofides did not even leave his keys.