Cyprus talks to continue; no deal yet

By Menelaos Hadjicostis

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 23 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

The bank restructuring will include the country's troubled second largest lender, Laiki, which suffered heavy losses after being exposed to toxic Greek debt.

Cypriot banks have been shut this past week while the plan was being worked out, and are not due to reopen until Tuesday. Cash has been available through ATMs, but many run out quickly, and those machines for the troubled Laiki Bank are only dispensing 260 euros a day.

Thousands of angry bank employees afraid of losing their jobs marched through the center of Nicosia to the Finance Ministry and Parliament, some with placards around their necks reading: "No to the bankruptcy of Cyprus."

"We are protesting for our jobs, and jobs of all in Cyprus," bank employee Zoei Koiachi said.

Worried about her job after 36 years at Laiki, Eleni Koutsourdou said lawmakers should have approved the initial plan for the 10 percent deposit grab for the sake of protecting the financial sector. "It's unfair. They pocketed everything and we end up paying for it," she said.

The restructuring of Laiki and the sale of the toxic-asset laden Greek branches of Cypriot banks is expected to cut the amount the country needs to raise to about 3 billion euros instead of 5.8 billion euros, officials have said. Bank of Cyprus, which was also exposed to Greek debt, might also be involved in the restructuring.

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Elena Becatoros in Nicosia contributed to this report.

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