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Island of lost dreams for some

BBC report into the collapse of the Cyprus banks that robbed many people of their life savings and left some with half-finished properties turning their dream of a home in the sun into a nightmare.

CYPRUS was the subject of a BBC World News Fast Track episode broadcast on the 15th June that reported on the impact of the financial crisis on foreigners who had chosen to live on the island.

In her opening remarks reporter Theopi Skarlatos explains how the warm climate, the relaxed lifestyle and a mostly English-speaking population had made Cyprus the perfect place for foreigners to set up home, especially over the last ten years.

But when the crisis hit the island it sent shockwaves everywhere and left some people wondering whether their life in paradise could exist for them for much longer.

The episode includes interviews with a Belgian couple who decided to spend their retirement in Cyprus, myself (Nigel Howarth), Martin Howe – a solicitor, Irena Georgiadou from the Cyprus Ministry of Finance, a neighbourhood watch group from the Paphos village of Pegeia, an Aphrodite Hills resident and Lucas Kitrou – a real estate manager.

Readers please note that some of the restrictive measures on financial transactions referred to in the report have been eased and that all funds entering or leaving Cyprus from abroad after 15 March 2013, are not subject to the restrictive measures.

Readers' comments

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  • Aggis Demetriou says:

    Dear reader

    The banks make a minimum of 155 million Euros a year from the fact of no Titles on properties, I challenge anyone to this.

    This is not an insurance (Nigel), Please don’t be fooled by the Cypriot banks, I have sold over 100 new properties here in Cyprus and none have Titles, this so called bank guarantee is designed for them to get money for nothing, most of the properties I have sold which have loans on I managed to obtain the “Bank Guarantee’s with a waiver” No Fees, don’t be fooled into thinking its an insurance.

    Basically if the purchaser don’t pay his loan the bank will try and get the money from the developer.

    Like I said the “Bank Guarantee” is another way of the banks sucking us dry.

    Remember this is Cyprus its a kingdom within a kingdom, but its slowly crumbling.

    kufrahdog: Thanks for looking into this

  • aggis demetriou says:

    Dear Costas
    what have you got to lose?
    regards

    do nothing and we get nothing..

  • Costas Apacket says:

    aggis – if we do contact Mr Hasikos do you think that he will start going on about ‘Gordian Knots’ like Count Silicosis did?

  • kufrahdog says:

    The producer and editor of this BBC report cherry-picked the material for it and as a consequence produced nothing less than a ‘tabloid’ article which is misleading, prejudiced and uninformed – but what more could one expect from a superficial few minutes of broadcast time?

    One of the key issues they failed to mention was that the economic crash in Cyprus was also due to the way in which Cypriot banks have conducted their business for many years in the property (and other) market(s) and, in spite of recently introduced measures, still conduct their business. I refer to their ‘idiosyncratic features that differentiate Cyprus from other international banking systems’ as the PIMCO report on the ‘Independent Due Diligence of the Banking System of Cyprus’ so aptly puts it.

    I would urge readers of the Cyprus Property News Magazine and others to acquire a copy of the report and at least read pages 10 to 14. There, they will discover the horrific and loathsome practices of asset-based lending, long foreclosure and repossession timelines, cross-collateralization of loans and borrowers, and the prevalence to modify loans in lieu of problem loan servicing etc, etc.

    My apologies for writing in headlines, but the PIMCO report puts it all rather well and does not mince words. Read the report and get another angle on this disreputable island; lost dreams,indeed!

  • aggis Demetriou says:

    Minister of Interior is Mr Sokratis Hasikos

    just write to him at the ministry and complain to him, your property has no final approval and therefore no title.

    unless you get to this guy no laws will be changed, put as much pressure on this dude, that’s why he’s there, he speaks good English so don’t worry about that, I would have given you his mobile number and his direct number at the ministry but I’m sure it wont get published.

    unless we write to these guys/seek face to face meetings nothing will happen.

    good luck.

  • aggis demetriou says:

    This crippled Island will only get better once the Bank of Cyprus goes under, as a well informed friend of mine told me its a matter of time within a year..

  • andyp says:

    Island of lost dreams for MANY would be more appropriate.

    The Chinese are now suffering at the hands of the usual suspects so where next?

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Denton – That’s it.

    I knew it had something to do with thieves.

    Dream thieves.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Costas Apacket. You must be thinking of Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves from some pantomime or other. Any apparent analogies with property activities in Paphos or elsewhere are, of course, purely spurious and have no basis in fact.

    Joking apart, for those who don’t know, AliBaba.com is the world’s largest on-line selling platform and originated in China.

  • Martyn says:

    It’s an oft-quoted phrase these days that ‘the only constant is change’ – and those of us who frequent and use this web forum will have seen, recognised the steadily growing negative factors within and outside Cyprus since 2007 that eventually led to the March 2013 mega-shock. Sadly, very sadly, the attractions of this island’s renowned climate and ‘lifestyle’, promulgated by many an up-beat UK newspaper article and/or ‘holiday magazine’, TV programme!, the assumptions that too many things, cultural, legal, economic here work very similarly to the UK, or other EU country, have in too many cases over-ridden ‘natural caution’.

    The BBC used to pride itself on presenting ‘balanced’ reports/programmes and the appearance of Mr Standing, and indeed one Nigel Howarth were in my view attempts by the BeeB to do just that. But lets not ignore the fact that there are many Ex-Pats on this island who ‘read the signs’, listened to their, typically non-Cypriot, Advisers, and did as much as they could to protect themselves from the potential ravages of the ‘Cyprus Day of Reckoning’ – which was likely, many of us reckoned, to come shortly after the February elections when eventually the Denial (that anything was seriously wrong) by the previous weak, seemingly leaderless government would have to be tackled.

    I happen to know many, many more ex-pats in Cyprus who have their Title Deeds, have little or no Cyprus bank borrowing, had moved their savings to ‘safer’ places long before 15th March and (many) had been cheerfully enjoying – and paying! – Cyprus’ generous tax rates as they fell due (and it seems have been amongst the first to go pay their interim IPT ‘dues’) than have not (done all the above).

    But, Yes we must sympathise with those of our expat friends and acquaintances who weren’t so lucky/intuitive/well advised and we must ALL work hard to ensure the major fault-lines in this country’s banking, property, legal and construction sectors are, as required by the Troika, no less, remedied as a matter of urgency. Otherwise as others have said, there will be NO Cyprus property markets, many years of serious decline – and possibly, sadly, even more Denial in the hope that somehow that lovely attractive MedGas out there is going to be the next big ‘Cyprus Saviour’. How sweeter it will be if it does become that and the current messes on-shore have been fairly and fundamentally tackled in the meantime..

    Regarding the anti-crime initiatives getting under way: very, very sensible: Cyprus’ own regular publicity in the period 2004-2008 (that it had the ‘lowest crime rate in the EU’) sadly was many feel a major factor, attractor to an influx of folk who felt they could capitalise on the general low levels of public and personal security – the days, not so long ago when Cypriots, especially, felt it was ‘safe’ to leave their doors unlocked, their windows open, their ladders conveniently outside their homes, their mobile phones in their unlocked – and often badly, and conveniently!, parked! – cars. Now in these times of finally excruciating recession they and most of us have recognised that the attractions of crime will, sadly, lead to more and more ‘drivers of crime’.

    It’s not just banks that steal your money, livelihoods, lifestyles after all! We should ALL be very aware of the threats that exist, that are emerging as we continue to discuss, hopefully address, all these things.

    Nigel, keep up the good work in running, managing and developing this Forum, you do a generally very good job of keeping us all up-to-date!

  • Costas Apacket says:

    Denton – Alibaba?

    Aren’t they Developers based in Paphos?

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Nigel. Gosh! You are wight! Can’t even spot the obb typos anymoor. I’ll have to review the video just to make sure it was actually you.

    I have no doubt the producers thought they were adding ‘balance’ to the video by including a ‘positive’ story from Mr Standing. Unfortunately, one swallow does not a summer make!

    The Chinese are already wising up to the artful ways here, as did the Iranians before them. Remember how 4-5 years ago the latter were billed as the saviours of the Cyprus property market? Their buying dried up rapidly once bad experiences of compatriots started circulating on the Tehran grapevine. When we start to see Chinese trying to offload unsellable Cyprus re-sales via Ali Baba.com, we will know the game is over.

  • Peter Davis says:

    I now understand much more about one of my father’s favourite sayings…

    “To them that hath it shall be given, and to them that hath not, even that which they hath, shall be taken away”.

    Surely the Bible was comparing the lucky Government worker with the luckless property buyer in Cyprus.

  • @Denton Mackrell – I think it’s high time that you visited an optician :-)

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Yes, the prog did rather focus on the post-March 2013 financial crisis here, at the expense of the years of criminality, bungling and corruption beforehand which actually created the property debacle. A poorly researched prog. But Nigel was oh so photogenic as usual!!

  • Costas Apacket says:

    It’s a good job that Martin Luther King never visited Cyprus because he would have been unable to deliver his famous speech after living here for any length of time.

    Or maybe his speech would have been changed to,

    ‘I had a dream?’

  • Richard says:

    Report is a bit ‘thin’ on the specifics going on behind the scenes that could start to turn around the issues if handled correctly. Interesting that (at last) E.C.H.R mentioned though.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    I’m delighted to hear that Mr. Standing, perched above his pool at Aphrodite Hills, is faring so well. A great comfort to everybody else.

    As for real estate manager, Mr. Kitrou, trying desperately to talk up the market, he and his colleagues are on a hiding to nothing.

    Assuming he’s not one of those whose company has sold properties with hidden mortgages, his time would be better spent trying to clean up the construction industry and press for the issuance of title deeds at point of sale.

  • Stuart says:

    Do I take it that Mr Brian ‘Self-assured’ Standing has his Title Deeds to his Aphrodite Hills property safely tucked away somewhere and is thus immune to the levels of distress being experienced by other contributors to this BBC report?

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