Latest Headlines

Petition to stop Alpha Bank repossessing homes

A petition has been launched calling on the Interior Ministry and the Land Registry to reject any application made by the Alpha Bank to auction land to recover money owed to it by the bankrupt developer Yiannis Liasides.

YESTERDAY the Property in Cyprus Action Support Group (PICAS) launched an on-line petition concerning applications made by the Alpha Bank to auction eight plots of land in the Paphos district to recover monies owed to it by bankrupt property developer Yiannis Liasides.

People affected by the Alpha Bank’s applications paid Liasides for their homes in full and have also been forced to spend many thousands of Euros in addition to make their homes habitable by completing unfinished construction work, build roads and obtain utility services as a consequence of the company’s collapse.

These unfortunate people may lose their homes if the Alpha Bank’s applications are approved.

Time is of the essence and PICAS is urging as many people as possible to sign its on-line petition. PICAS plan to submit the petition to the Ministry of the Interior. The petition reads:

Stop the Alpha Bank’s application to Auction

We the undersigned demand that the Ministry of the Interior and the Land Registry in Cyprus act decisively and intervene by rejecting any and all the applications made by the Alpha Bank to auction eight plots of land that were mortgaged to property developer Yiannis Liasides against which contracts of sale to purchase immovable property have been lodged.

Many people who bought from this developer in particular and in Cyprus in general did so with the utmost good faith. They were reassured by the Ministry of the Interior that once a contract of sale is lodged with the Land Registry for Specific Performance then the buyer is protected.

In his statement of the 22nd July 2009, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis wrote “Nobody and no Authority anywhere can ever challenge the property rights or the ownership status of buyers of immovable property within the territory which is under the control of the ROC.” And that “the property market in Cyprus is stable and secure, and property buyers must be absolutely certain that their investments are safe here; indeed, property investment is much safer in Cyprus than anywhere else”.

We ask that a clear and unequivocal message is sent to the banks in Cyprus that buyers must not pay the price for the failure of developers, negligence of Advocates, lax oversight by the banks and the inability of successive governments to legislate against this.

Failure to send such a message will result in a complete breakdown of trust and confidence in both the Cyprus property market and also in the assurances made by the Minister of the Interior on behalf of the Cyprus Government.

Please Sign This Petition!

Readers' comments

Comments on this article are no longer being accepted.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Denis, Thanks for the updates. Much appreciated.

  • baileyboy says:

    Over 800 signatures have been obtained so far in the petition in support of the property owners caught up in the Liasides nightmare. We would like to try and reach 1,000 in one week so if you have still not done so please help us achieve that target. Click on the link above. It only takes a few seconds.

    Firstly let me make it clear that I am a co-founder of PICAS. The views expressed below are my own thoughts and not necessarily those of the PICAS group.

    I think it was very undiplomatic of a respected campaigner to post on an open forum more or less saying he doesn’t need PICAS help. The petition was designed to assist the owners and was not meant as an act to derail the campaigner’s own sterling efforts to assist the owners.

    If you look at the aims of PICAS http://www.picas-cyprus.com it quite clearly states that PICAS was formed to assist property owners in CYPRUS (not restricted to the east of the island)

    However having made my point I hope we can work together to give the Liasides owners every possible help that we can. I hope this petition will make any banks contemplation taking the same action will think twice about it. We are open to any ideas on any way we can help the owners please let us know.

  • Denis O'Hare CPAG says:

    @ Costas Apacket

    All’s well that ends well!

    PICAS have informed me that they will support the Liasides buyers with their demo against Alpha Bank, I am sure the buyers will be very grateful.

    Furthermore, this whole issue has now also been formally raised with the Cypriot Ambassador at the EU by Sir Graham Watson MEP.

  • Crystal says:

    I for one am worried sick about the latest events, I know my developer has all his business with Alpha Bank. I know there are mortgages on the land, pre contract and after, only found out by submitting N50. Am I bothered where the petitions of support come from no I am not, The more awareness created about this the better, does it really matter who got the petition going.

    I have read posts brom buyers affected who are openly discussing their situations and have signed the petition, being a victim of a mass fraud is not an exclusive right.

    I am disappointed to see that this is turning into a slanging match between 2 groups who are offering support to victims does it really matter what side of the island they are situated on for gods sake get a grip.

    Is it helping the people losing their homes to read this pettiness.

  • Denis O'Hare CPAG says:

    @Costas Apacket,

    Thank you for your usual support it is as always most welcome. Unfortunately PICAS is not supporting our activities nor are they required to. As you state we seem to be on top of this situation something which was perfectly clear from the Mail article.

    However despite this, PICAS have for their own reasons, without the courtesy of contacting the Liasides buyers (who are in the west and not strangely in PICAS’ area of operation in the east) or ourselves and without understanding our plans have taken this unilateral action. What were their motives in doing this (behind our backs)?

    Nevertheless, in this thread I have since asked whether they will support a demo against Alpha Bank in the east. Nothing has been forthcoming yet.

    So what support are they willing to give to the Liasides clients now they have stepped in and created expectations? For example, should we ask all the buyers to contact PICAS?

    @mbEyes

    No one from PICAS has had the courtesy to contact us, nor do we have a crystal ball to know what they intended to do. I asked Nigel to raise this matter because I can trust him to do what he says he will do.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Well done for getting out while you could O-J-B.

    I’m sure that a lot of us are very envious of your new situation.

    CPAG seem to be on top of this along with and in support of the Liasides buyers and PICAS are also assisting which is good.

    Denis, would you please update us as and when there are any further developments?

  • Peter says:

    No problem it will all change when they join the EU, then Cyprus will have to comply with the rules…. right?

  • Mike says:

    Odd_job_Bob – Please do not stop commenting, I am not directly affected either (I have my deeds) but I feel for those that my Government, Banks and system has sought to defraud – because by any measure that’s what it is either by design or incompetence.

    I just cannot comprehend that there are obviously still individuals out there who ignore all signs and advice and still proceed with a purchase, they can’t all be brain dead surely. Rose tinted glasses must be selling well!

    I guess all Cypriot, British and other foreign buyers alike owe the likes of Nigel, Dennis O’Hare and the indefatigable courage of Conor O’Dwyer a debt of gratitude for their unflinching support be it direct or indirect. We would all be well advised to heed their advice and say “Thank You”.

  • Robert Briggs says:

    @mbEyes. Would you like to take over from Mr Denis O’Hare? R.B.

  • mbEyes says:

    Denis, you have great respect from most of us, and have probably done more than anybody else to further the complaints of property buyers left in the lurch, but do you really need to have a go (twice) at another group which is also trying to help?

    Perhaps instead of sounding off about them here you might speak to them direct instead of expecting Nigel to pass on your views.

  • Brian16 says:

    Will there ever be an end to stories such as this? The whole infrastructure is corrupt from top to bottom. If I could turn back the clock, I wouldn’t have gone within a million miles of Cyprus, buying property there is like setting fire to thousands of pounds.

  • Odd_Job_Bob says:

    I’ve gone! Cyprus’ shores are but a distant memory. ..

    Before I get shut down for straying off-topic again (no, Nigel, I agree with why you did it on the Samaras’ article, but by the time I saw his comments and was sharpening up me pen for what would have been a withering response, the Ref had called time! Hey-ho…), here are my comments on the Alpha Bank/ Liasides case.

    Alpha Bank are BLUFFING. OK, a VERY high stakes bluff, but a bluff nevertheless. Alpha Bank don’t want your property. As one Liasides victim said, they as the purchaser were encouraged to take out a loan to pay off the developer’s debts! THIS is what the banks want: all your property is to them is LEVERAGE. After all, what are they going to do with a whole host of property on their books that they can’t actually access for years? The only way they can auction them off is to Distressed Property Fund Managers who will sell them for next to nothing. We’re a long way off that though as no-one in their right mind would touch this toxic market for at least a good few years.

    All the lenders and the Powers-That-Be in this society know that if they try new and what-they-believe crafty ways to extract money out of the expats here, with the vague promise that at some stage, you’ll get your deeds, MONEY WILL BE EXTRACTED. NOWHERE though do you see a total figure for the liabilities outstanding against your property cos if anyone did, we would all just hand back in the keys (and pray the EU collapses before Cyprus banks seek restitution from our other EU assets…). Sad Man that I am, I’ve done the maths, I’m afraid, and my findings were as follows:

    You can put in all sorts of variables, but if say a developer has borrowed against the plot at a certain LTV and interest rate, you’ve borrowed against the purchase price, the developer has borrowed more money against the purchase price, he hasn’t paid any interest for 5 years, the property went up in value then down again: the outstanding loan against the property will be well over 100% Loan To Valuation. If we factor in penal interest rates, transfer fees, VAT, IPT, CGT, Amnesty Fines (as yet undisclosed) etc, we’re talking an even greater LTV. Then there’s any property the developer has built and NOT sold. All debts against these get lobbed together against all HIS assets (in his LIMITED LIABILITY company, not his personal stuff as we’ve all seen now), your property being one of these assets. Depending on which variables you use, we could be talking many hundreds of % LTV.

    About a year ago, some banker mates and I had a simple business idea to, for a VERY REASONABLE admin fee (I must add!), find out EXACTLY what was outstanding against every deedless property and if salvageable, present the struggling developer and the title-less owner with a solution so they could make a decision whether or not it was worth trying to obtain them. There was no promise we could get the deeds as we wouldn’t know at the outset what was outstanding (unlike all the “we can get you your deeds for a fee” companies that have sprung up over the last year). What we began to discover stacked up against the properties we looked at was incredible. Now that I am out of Cyprus, I’d love to be able to send a copy of my report (the initial draft was sent to Nigel about a year ago!), but I’m not sure on the legalities etc.

    So, you can write all the petitions in the world, but they aren’t going to get you your deeds. Either the bank (and all other creditors) writes off the developer’s debt (which it won’t as the thumb screw is not fully turned yet) or you eventually get repossessed. Delaying tactics are great and I throw whatever meagre support I can to your cause, but that’s all they are.

    However, if anyone goes down the route of paying a single penny into any of these new-fangled money-extraction schemes, this will be not only a penny wasted but a further indication to the Powers-That-Be that a few more turns are still possible.

    Does anyone remember the character Keiser Soze from the excellent film “The Usual Suspects”, in particular the famous scene where his family were being used as leverage in a kidnapping? If not, here’s a quick reminder:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyser_S%C3%B6ze

    OK, a bit extreme, but that’s what we have to do, as a few have been advocating for about a year now: consider Immovable Property Assets here as lost and save as much of your remaining money as possible. I have.

    This has GOTTA be my last post. EVER (as it’s a bit wrong to comment on something that no longer directly affects me). Honest…

  • Diane says:

    Thanks for that Denis, and may I take this opportunity to say a very big THANK YOU for all your hard work, its very much appreciated, without your help and support I would have gone under.

  • paul lambert says:

    Sins of the past coming back to haunt Cyprus. How appropriate in the run up to Christmas. Which party is Ebenezer Scrooge? Alpha Bank? Did they ever carry out any checks on building work before releasing funds to the developers. Was a surveyor/architect ever employed by the bank to scrutinize events? Alpha Bank have never been able to provide an evidence of this. The government spokesman who stakes his reputation on the value of the act of ‘Specific Performance’ must now be quaking in his boots. The whole system is about to unravel but guess what? Nobody is to blame!

    Cyprus, by the actions of its government bodies has been reduced in reputation to that of a very corrupt third world country and I apologise in advance to any third world country who claim that they are not as corrupt as Cyprus. I urge everyone to sign the petition. Who knows, you could be next !

  • @Denis – Thanks for your comments and I will raise the subject of organising a demo at the PICAS meeting this afternoon.

  • Denis O'Hare CPAG says:

    Dear Nigel,

    As you are aware, I always say that anyone who wants to help other people gets top marks from me every time.

    We at CPAG are working with Liasides buyers as much as we can in this difficult situation as we have since the company ceased trading in 2007. This has included meeting with the developer and separately, his father and brother in the early days in order to find solutions.

    As you have seen from recent press we have exposed the Alpha Bank applications and pressed the Minister of the Interior for his position – the silence has been deafening! Nevertheless, the British High Commissioner has promised to meet with the Minister ASAP to determine his intentions.

    The EU Commission and all UK MEPS have been recently appraised of the current situation by us.

    We have also managed in the past month to get some of the Liasides buyers’ cases into the European Court of Human Rights after a mammoth effort.

    With regard to the above Liasides petition did anyone from PICAS have the courtesy to speak to any of the Liasides buyers to ascertain whether they needed this help? Or indeed what help they needed?

    PICAS certainly did not contact CPAG as I would have told them that this activity in my opinion is doomed to failure. I would bet your pension Nigel that the Minister would not even answer any letter – as you are aware we have quite a bit of experience in communications with the Minister!

    Anyone remember the famous Gordon Brown petition which also came to nought?

    On a brighter note one of the Liasides buyers visited the Paphos Branch of Alpha Bank yesterday and spoke with the manager who then contacted Head Office : Quote – according to her conversation with Head office Nicosia she related to me that ” providing our contract was lodged with the land registry and has the necessary stamp then we are safe” and Alpha Bank will not touch our homes !!

    So who knows what is now going on behind the scenes as a result of the press coverage?

    The first objective of this current activity is to prevent the sales of these properties from being sanctioned by the Ministry and believe me this petition will have little effect as the people we are dealing with have no shame. It needs EU pressure and more negative press.

    The second objective is to get this Liasides debt written off. Alpha Bank have huge provisions for bad debt in general and we have to make sure that they are sufficiently embarrassed to do this.

    Some of the Liasides buyers have asked us to organise demonstrations against the bank to support this objective and to help heap pressure on the Head Office of the bank. This we will do in Paphos in the near future once the smoke clears. Perhaps all those willing to sign the above petition will be at the demo? An ‘over my dead body’ demo! (Well said Diane)

    Finally, if PICAS wants to really help the Liasides buyers it should organise a similar demo, say in Larnaca, to add pressure on the bank. I know the Liasides buyers would really like this support and action. So would all the other buyers in the east whose developers have mortgages from this bank.

    Perhaps you could kindly raise the matter at their meeting today?

  • Dr J M Heap says:

    Alpha bank’s proposed action is totally reprehensible as unscrupulous developers aided by poorly run banks have used people’s bought property as collateral for bank loans. In my mind this amounts to fraud.

  • Peter says:

    @ Andy you are spot on…..

    International Banking regulations required the Alpha Bank to have a ‘Bad and doubtful provision for debts identified as uncollectable”. These are debts that have not been serviced for 12 months and after 24 months to write these debts off as a “Bad debt”. Some of these debts have it appears not been serviced for 10 years since 2002 and only now are Alpha Bank being “active” in their collection method. A debt is statute barred after 6 years if the bank cannot show “due diligence” in an attempt to collect the debt. Certainly a court will need to see some evidence that Alpha Bank was not negligent in dealing with the debt until now. So ask the bank for evidence as to what it has been doing??

  • Andy says:

    “Shylock ignores the many pleas to spare Antonio’s life, and a trial is called to decide the matter”

    “Portia asks Shylock to show mercy, but he remains inflexible and insists the pound of flesh is rightfully his”

    Will blood be spilled or will sense prevail?? and will I have to admit that I live in a banana republic!!!!

  • Andy says:

    Nομικές εγκληματίες!!!!!
    If this was you, wouldn’t you be grateful for the support being given??? So join the petition and make your voice heard in support of these innocent victims….Alpha Bank and every other bank that wilfully and negligently lent out money to village peasants and knowingly allowed this to happen are foremost to blame…the bank knew they were securing their loan on land being developed???? Premeditated theft???

  • out of the frying pan into the fire says:

    Stop this and they will find another way to defraud us. Good Luck to all.

  • The views expressed in readers' comments are not necessarily shared by the Cyprus Property News.

  • Text size

Back to top