Cyprus bail-in ensured Russians would be bank saviours

Cyprus bail-in ensured Russians would be bank saviours

NICOSIA - Russians now have a say in key lender Bank of Cyprus because of European reluctance to fully bail out Nicosia, fearing that would safeguard oligarchs' ill-gotten gains, analysts believe.

"Unlike all the other bailout countries the Eurogroup did not want to give Cyprus a full bailout, largely because of media hysteria about alleged money-laundering," finance analyst Fiona Mullen told AFP.

She said six Russians being appointed to the 16-member board of Bank of Cyprus last week should not surprise anyone because it was a natural consequence of the harsh bailout terms.

"Russians running the biggest bank in Cyprus is a consequence of that (bailout), so the answer to eurozone leaders is 'you get what you pay for'," she said.

During its arduous and long drawn-out bailout negotiations with international lenders, Cyprus was portrayed, especially by Germany, as a laundromat for dirty Russian money.

Local banks were accused of asking no questions when rich oligarchs wanted to park their cash - which is why Cypriots suspect international lenders ensured Cyprus was the only eurozone member where uninsured depositors were forced to contribute.

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