ICC Tribunal orders CBC to allow FBME owners access to premises
The Arbitral Tribunal at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris has ordered the Cyprus government to grant the shareholders and directors of FBME Bank access to the lenders premises on the island from where they were excluded on March 31 when the Central Bank of Cyprus sacked 140 employees.
This order follows an earlier ‘invitation’ issued by the Tribunal, according to an FBME announcement.
The banning of the owners from the premises and the mass sacking of FBME staff were carried out by Chris Iacovides, appointed by the CBC as its administrator to run the operations of FBME Bank.
“This is despite the fact that Mr Iacovides has no experience in banking and is almost permanently absent from the FBME branch premises, though he is being paid from the funds of FBME and its depositors,” the owners said in the announcement.
“Aware of his lack of banking experience the CBC has permitted Mr Iacovides to pursue his other business activities, appointing as his deputy Marios Christodoulides. This move has not much improved the situation with FBME as Mr Christodoulides has no international banking experience, being only a former local branch manager of Hellenic Bank in Limassol and an official of the now defunct Cyprus branch of Emporiki bank.”
Arbitration has been underway at the ICC since the second half of 2014, dealing with the FBME owners’ claims for compensation against the Republic of Cyprus under the terms of the 2003 international agreement between Cyprus and Lebanon that protects investor rights in each other’s country. This treaty was breached by the CBC when it took over FBME’s Cyprus branch and the claims for compensation are set at hundreds of millions of euros.
The central bank had alleged, based on information from the US authorities, that Tanzania-owned FBME was conducting money-laundering activities and violated international sanctions imposed on terror groups from the Middle East and Africa, allegations that have not yet been convincingly substantiated.