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Lawsuits filed against banks

SYMEA, a trade union established earlier this year intends to block the repossession of mortgaged properties by taking local banking institutions to court according to its president Andreas Alambritis.

Paphos District Court

Paphos District Court

A TRADE UNION, representing small businesses and the self-employed operating under the name of SYMEA, is taking local banking institutions to court, protesting excessive charges on loans, on current accounts and on credit cards, according to Andreas Alambritis, SYMEA president.

“We have agreed with our lawyers to take our grievances to court against all licensed credit institutions for illegal additional fees they have been charging over the years, which must be revoked so that we can have a clear picture of the balance on each account,” Alambritis told CNA today, adding that this would help borrowers as well as the banks themselves.

Filing a law suit against the banking institutions would block repossession of mortgaged properties for as long as the case is before the court, he explained.

The government is working for the approval of a bill on foreclosures, a prerequisite for the next tranche of a 10 billion bailout Cyprus’ international lenders have agreed to provide. The bill has to be approved by the House of Representatives in the coming weeks and before the next Eurogroup meeting. Parliamentary parties have warned that unless substantive changes are introduced to the existing bill to protect the ordinary citizen who has been affected by the financial crisis, they will reject it.

“No property can be repossessed if legal proceedings are underway,” SYMEA president said, noting that even if the draft legislation on foreclosures is approved, it would essentially be ineffective because of the lawsuits.

Replying to questions, he referred to tens of thousands of cases which could find their way before the courts, adding that priority will be given to cases relating to non-performing loans and to current accounts which are in overdraft.

SYMEA was set up in April this year with a view to protecting and safeguarding the interests of small businesses and the self-employed in Cyprus. It also aims to secure lower interest rates and seeks to freeze for a year all loans small businesses and their shareholders have taken out.

Source: Cyprus News Agency

Readers' comments

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  • Andrew says:

    What will happen to homes which have been paid for in full. Thousands of homes have been used as collateral for Developer Mortgage (NPLs). These homes could also be at risk of foreclosure because lawyers failed to inform or advise their clients.

    What will the European Parliament, or the Troika , or Cyprus do to protect innocent citizens?

  • MartynG says:

    Now, today’s Cyprus Mail, we have news of a larger ‘mass action’ over the upcoming ForeClosures. An amalgam of unions, family-oriented organisations, farmers, pensioners and family groups to mention but a few,

    This looks like a surging ‘grass roots’ initiative that could seriously sideswipe the Government’s attempts to secure Troika approval for the next tranche of funding.

    Where will this lead?.

    Answers on an e-postcard please!

    Meantime:

    It’ may well represent a serious challenge to the establishment – government, banks, bankers et al and, given the ‘experiment’ by the EU/Troika/IMF at uniquely ‘haircutting’ Depositors, personal, corporate, off-shore, on-shore, wherever – there could just, now, be a groundswell that turns into a Black Swan event that even given the ‘smallness’ of Cyprus may not prevent further ructions in the ill-conceived Eurozone, further sizeable ripples towards an, in my view, almost inevitable ‘crunch’ that could still, possibly see the collapse of the Euro.

  • Janine says:

    Great that there are groups standing up against the banks who caused all this. But some people still don’t get it…. Cyprus has more Non Performing Loans than virtually any other country. At 50% it can’t be the wicked borrowers! It is not the borrowers fault!! You have to question the bank’s policies, almost unique to Cyprus! The non payers are not the cause, they are the victims of this ‘banana republic’. I have several mortgages in Europe, all are being paid, but I can’t pay the Cyprus mortgage. The goal posts have changed so much – the banks acted with total greed and incompetence – and it has destroyed the property market. I want compensation for the 70% loss in value, caused by both inappropriate CHF mortgages, and arbitrary increases in margins/profit. Offer this kind of mortgage package to any population – and the result would be the same. I couldn’t possibly justify any further payments! Not only that, but the bank has been most unhelpful and clearly does not understand the problem – offering peanuts (or should I say bananas) to offset the huge losses and lack of affordability. This is a problem caused by the banks, supported by lawyers and agents alike, who together ripped us all off. Give me a 70% LTV loan at 2% over 20 years in euros, and I will pay! One less NPL!

  • Stuart says:

    A smart delaying tactic indeed, coupled with a pop at the banks’ excessive enthusiasm for ‘upping the ante’.

    Given the pace at which the Cyprus courts operate, it could frustrate the recovery of the Cyprus economy indefinitely, especially if further similar initiatives are introduced.

    Will the Troika react to this new situation by revising the revised MoU yet again or simply hand over the next tranche of bail out funding regardless, in order to preserve the Eurozone at any price?

  • uboat says:

    As usual any excuse to get out of paying or prolong the agony.
    I agree though a smart move…

  • MartynG says:

    Smart move this. Providing they can establish that the increased interest rates and ‘excessive charges can be shown to be “illegal”: many banks in many countries build these ‘rights’ into their contracts/relationships with their customers. But in any event these actions will certainly ‘slow things down’ and the various Cypriot and Cyprus based banks must already be taking a hard look at their potential ‘exposures’.

    ‘No property can be repossessed if legal proceedings are underway’ seems to be a primary protection for the SME and Self-Employeds involved.

    Just another brake being applied across business and banking sectors that reflect the sloppiness generally in this country of granting and servicing of loans and overdrafts.

    We can expect more initiatives such as this SYMEA initiative – which may, or may not, bring some kinds of ‘justice’ – but likely will also slow down the overall recovery of the Cyprus economy by a few more years at least.

  • Peter pickapocket says:

    As normal still not paying the debts

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