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Banker quits citing ‘serious health reasons’

Bank of Cyprus
THEODOROS Aristodemou, the chairman of the Bank of Cyprus has resigned for health reasons and has been replaced by the bank’s vice chairman Andreas Artemis; Evdokimos Xenophontos has been appointed as the bank’s new vice-chairman.

Aristodemou, the founder and MD of Aristo Developers Limited, said in a letter to the board that “serious health issues” had forced a two-month absence abroad, and it was unclear when he could fully resume his duties.

“I judge that continuing to hold the position of president does not facilitate the smooth and unhindered operation of the group at an especially difficult time,” Aristodemou said.

“As Chairman, I sought honesty, transparency and collegiality in actions and decisions”.

“As the largest private Cypriot shareholder I participated in all efforts to strengthen the capital structure of the bank with very significant economic personal cost”, he added.

“The problems from the global economic and financial crisis are many and various. Especially the problems of Greece added to our weaknesses affected negatively our economy and financial system”.

“I’m really sorry that Cyprus failed to avoid it”, he stressed.

“Many placements, discussions and debates have been made on the causes and responsibilities of the problems of the economy and the banks. I had and still have my views on the reported problems. But I believe that it will contribute positively if from my post I will go in the midst of debates leading to disputes, at a time when understanding and collective decisions and actions are in my opinion very important and necessary”.

“The country needs a strong economy, strong and healthy banking system. I hope Bank of Cyprus to continue to be the mainstay of the economy”, he concluded, expressing his optimistic that this can be achieved despite the difficulties.

Commenting on his sudden resignation, a board member of the bank said “Mr Aristodemou feels he can’t continue in the job after undergoing a serious operation in the US given the present difficult circumstances”.

Aristodemou, the bank’s largest private shareholder, assumed the chairmanship in May 2008 and had been a member of the board since 1991.

His resignation comes only weeks after the departure of the bank’s chief executive, Andreas Eliades, who was forced to stand down after revealing an unexpected €500m capital shortfall according to a report in the Financial Times.

The Board of Directors has also accepted the resignation of Mr Manthos Mavrommatis who was appointed seven years ago.

There have been numerous negative reports in the media in recent times regarding the dubious practices that got the banks in hot water including their ‘unique’ methodology for determining nonperforming loans.

During the past week, the Cypriot media continued to report on problems within the Bank of Cyprus whose executives have responded by refusing to talk to the press.

“The bank’s new administration has assumed a difficult task and it is very unproductive to deal with announcements and commenting on such reports on a daily basis,” it said in a written statement.

A number of the reports are based on leaked documents, a matter currently under investigation by the bank.

Meanwhile Alvarez & Marsal, the independent firm appointed by the island’s Central Bank to investigate why the Bank of Cyprus and the Popular Bank had to seek government support, will also be seeking evidence of possible criminal offences.