Neophytou says challenging foreclosures in court possible (Update-1)

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(Updates with more comment and background in third and tenth paragraph)

By Stelios Orphanides

Chairman of the parliamentary finance committee and president of Disy Averof Neophytou said that a number of political parties have agreed to give borrowers the right to challenge foreclosures in court in fast-track procedures which may allow the formation of a majority faction in parliament.

The inclusion of this clause followed an intervention from Diko chairman Nicholas Papadopoulos which led to ‘an updated and final document’ being prepared, on which President Nicos Anastasiades is expected to comment in writing, Neophytou told reporters on Friday after a meeting of the finance committee which reviewed the proposed legislative amendments.

Hours later, Neofytou said that Disy and Diko are supporting the bill after Edek, which initially also did so, backed down after some of its proposals were included in the foreclosure bill.

The court will have to issue its final ruling within two months after a borrower files an application, Neophytou said, adding that a citizen’s right to resort to justice is enshrined in the constitution. The initial draft of the foreclosure bill, which is part of a bundle of reforms to help banks speed up the reduction of their delinquent loans and one of the European Commission’s conditions for approving Hellenic Bank’s deal to acquire the Cyprus Cooperative Bank’s operations, gave borrowers no right to resort to the courts, raising questions over the constitutionality of the provision. The Commission asked for reforms in the legislation and the judicial procedures. Delays in Cyprus judicial system, known for dragging its feet, are to blame for lengthy foreclosure procedures resulting in increased provisions for Cypriot lenders.

The banks, currently struggling with a mountain of €22 billion in non-performing loans or 45 per cent of the total, are facing new stress tests and, depending on assumptions on how quickly they can recover terminated loans, they may be asked to find fresh capital. Concerns over the adequate capital levels of the Co-op prompted borrowers to withdraw €2bn in deposits in the first quarter of the year.

This, in turn, compelled the government to hasten the process of seeking to sell the bank’s operations, which ultimately led to the deal with Hellenic Bank which provides for the transfer of the Co-op’s healthy part, including €9.7bn in deposits, the bulk of which is insured by the taxpayer. Last week, Co-op depositors began to withdraw deposits again on fears the parliament would reject the deal with Hellenic.

Neophytou also said that foreclosure procedures will require, in addition to two valuations of an affected property, another carried out by the department of lands and surveys.

“I once again want to assure that on Sunday, the debate of all matters concerning the country’s financial stability will have been completed,” Neophytou said. “I once more express my certainty that the entirety of the bills as well as proposal to guarantee part of the asset transferred by the Co-op to Hellenic will be approved by the plenary.”

Neofytou said that there is unanimity about some of the proposed bills, convergence in the case of others and substantial political differences on other issues.

Disy, which has 18 lawmakers, and Diko, with 10 deputies, will be able to form a small majority in the 56-seat house after the supreme court cancelled the election of a Solidarity lawmaker. Akel, which is the largest opposition party, with 16 deputies is opposing foreclosures.

The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported that the finance committee will hold a closed session on Saturday morning to debate the amendments. The session will be completed by noon to give the groups time to decide ahead of Sunday’s plenary.

The Republic’s law office, the ministry of finance and Disy believe that the bill on foreclosures, which is the only source of controversy among political parties, provides as it stands sufficient protection for borrowers. Opposition parties, CNA added, proposed stronger formulations, which Neofytou rejected on the grounds that the bills have undergone several changes already.

“If the parties proposing changes have a majority, they will vote down the bill,” the Disy chairman was cited as saying. “If they have a majority to pass their bill, there’s no need to propose amendments. If they have a majority, they will pass the bill they propose which goes in the opposite direction of the government bills”.

Concerns expressed by Edek chairman Marinos Sizopoulos, who after meeting with Anastasiades on Thursday received assurances that specialised courts would be set up to handle such cases within months, had been addressed in an absolute manner, Neophytou continued.

Costas Melas, the chairman of the borrowers’ association was dismissive of the provision granting borrowers the right to challenge a foreclosure at the court, which he described as ‘ridiculous’.

Neophytou said that if the bills are watered down parliament will have to again debate about foreclosures in coming years.

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About Author

Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]

  • disqus_L0u0KoEhTr

    “will require, in addition to two valuations of an affected property, another carried out by the department of lands and surveys.”

    Ha ha ha ha ha

    Is this the same dysfunctional outfit that issues title deeds?

    • Neroli

      The very same!

    • JS Gost

      Is this in line with the €760,000 mortgage write down fro the return of a €60,000 shop. Still laughing about that one.

      • Neroli

        Aren’t we all?!

      • Barry White

        “The good Lord loves a tryer.”

  • Jay Bee

    I have said this before on this Forum, but have never meant it so emphatically.

    “The dogs are now running the sausage factory”

    That is all……

    • SuzieQ

      That is all……the end.

    • A is B

      Old bangers.

  • almostbroke

    The smokescreen keeps getting more dense day by day !

    • Evergreen

      Yes.Seems people had never borrowed a single penny ever and are victims.What a politics.

    • Bob Ellis

      As do the electorate.

      • Neroli

        You’re sharp this morning!

  • Barry White

    Photo caption contest entry: Averof ” Trust me, coitus interruptus works!”

    • JS Gost

      or ‘Here is my hand shadow puppet of the economy, a sick dog.’

    • SuzieQ

      “It’s nothing to do with me. Somebody else did it and he went that way….”

  • costaskarseras

    A civilised society is one that identifies with the needs of its citizens and works in order to satisfy them. The neoliberals create conditions that rob families of their homes in order to make a profit. Mr Neophitou, one of the preachers of the free market, now very generously will allow people to challenge foreclosures in court. Is he so insensitive and completely out of touch or is he taking the Mickey when people who cannot pay their mortgage have to engage expensive solicitors? As Marie-Antoinette said, “Let them eat cake”.

    • almostbroke

      ‘ The Jones’s and how to keep up with them ‘ ,a common theme in Cyprus ! Costa still pedaling the old Stalinist communist propaganda as usual, once again Maggie the greatest neoliberal of the all , got it spot on ! The problem with Socialism is that they soon run out of other people’s money !

      • costaskarseras

        So you are still believing in the neoliberal fairy tales as told by Thatcher and her disciples. You keep repeating the same propaganda that in the Socialist countries it took five people to replace a light bulb and you believe the propaganda that it is more productive and efficient to have millions of people idle and unemployed. The other illogical argument you keep repeating is that Socialism soon runs out of other people’s money.

        The wealth is produced in the factories, in the mines, in the fields and on the building sites by the sweat and skills of the working people. Not by the bankers and the other fat cats that manned the financial institutions with the lottery figure salaries and bonuses even when the companies they led performed poorly. In the City of London and other financial centres is where the “legal robbery” of the wealth produced by the working people takes place.

        To see the glorious result of Thatcher, take a stroll in the streets of the wealthy British capital, London and you will be shocked by the number of homeless people and people begging. Alternatively, visit my facebook and you will see a few photographs among them a former serviceman. Thirteen million people live below the poverty line in the UK, with individuals going hungry every day for a range of reasons, from benefit delays to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. The generous British people provide food banks and soup kitchens to the victims of the neoliberal policies.

        • almostbroke

          At least the ‘homeless ‘ and co are free and not subject to totalitarian regimes .‘
          Communism was tried and failed because those running Communist countries wanted to live like ‘capitalists ‘. You have to take responsibly for ones own actions . If you decide to have a bigger house , car ,. than your neighbour and you borrow excessively to achieve this and you are unable to pay it back , it’s not the States job to pick up the pieces when it all goes wrong !

        • Bob Ellis

          Come to Cyprus Costa, you will not see homeless people as everyone lives in houses, some of which have not been paid for and others that are now gifts from the abused taxpayers. Your socialist tinted view of the world does not work anywhere. Just tell me a socialist country that has survived, kept to it’s principles and propsered for more than 60 years ?

          • A is B

            But a lot of what he says is true.

        • Neroli

          Many of the people on low income are already up to their eyes in debt as they go to loan sharks, you hear the stories every day. They want a new something or other, they go to loan sharks cos they have no credit facilities and suddenly the new fridge, sofa which was £200 is now costing over £2,000 – also many on the streets are Roma

    • JS Gost

      Costa. The good honest hard working tax paying people of the island are now being robbed by the government to fund the greedy and the morally corrupt. Only a very small amount of people involved are genuine hard luck story, these are the cases that need to located with all the others foreclosed on, guarantees exercised and assets seized. Corrupt and inept governments and a greedy population created the problem, these are the two things that have to change before any real progress can be made.

    • Neroli

      These are not people who CANT pay their mortgage but people who don’t want to!

  • I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. This is my dream; this is my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor, and surviving.

    • almostbroke

      Apocalypse Now !!!!!

      • A is B

        Great film.

    • divadi bear

      Kurtz
      I have found a way to survive ! In general, don’t trust Cyprus with your money !!
      Since the Bail In, I have kept my bank deposit down to almost the exact amount I need for one standing order plus an excess of just 10 Euros on my account in the BoC.
      Elektronic banking with an account in my home bank and a credit card for it is the best solution
      !!!

  • Douglas

    Only in fantasy Island,it’s a safe and protected haven for non payers ,but who has to pay the bill in the end ?

  • JS Gost

    So the usual suspects get their houses for free then… vote buying at the lowest possible level, but nothing new for Cyprus. When the banks collapse why would any ‘real’ bank enter Cyprus is they know they can never get any money they loan legally back ?

  • Costas Apacket

    Neophytou = top class w*nker

  • Guest

    No wonder the European Commission is expressing concern.
    But, as ever, politicians in Cyprus are confident in their ability to play both ends against the middle, and outmanoeuvre the EU. That worked out so well in 2013. Do they never learn?

    • A is B

      No.

  • Jeremy Rigg

    Challenging my eye………………..the politicians will have their debt written off and the “little people” will lose their house. These ‘lesser people’ must be either blind or totally indifferent to what is going on.

    • Neroli

      And do we hear anything from the decent people who work and pay on time? I’m suprised they’re not on the streets shouting. Because I certainly would if I had a loan here

  • Sandie

    Fast track procedures ….in Cyprus. The usual government botch-up!

    The court will have to issue its final ruling within two months after a borrower files an application, which will probably not be binding, so the lenders can and will appeal (quite rightly) if they are not happy with the result and there we are again, years and years of Cyprus ……Justice!

  • A is B

    And the locals still do nothing.