MICHALIS Sarris, a former Cyprus finance minister who was appointed chairman of the Marfin Laiki Bank earlier this year, has been asked to step down by Cypriot government officials.
According to media reports, the move to force Mr Sarris from office results from comments he made during an interview with HARDtalk’s Stephen Sackur in May this year, in which he accused the government of making severe mistakes. It is anticipated that Mr Sarris’ successor will be Andreas Phillipou.
Michalis Sarris is the second senior banking official to find himself out of a job after crossing swords with the government.
Athanasios Orphanides, who served as Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus between May 2007 and May 2012, was not reappointed to the position. This followed accusations by the government that Mr Orphanides had not advised ministers about the critical state of the economy; a claim that Mr Orphanides vehemently denied.
Mr Orphanides accused President Demetris Christofias of doing nothing to shield the island’s banking system from the impact of the Greek debt. Christofias rebuffed the accusation saying that at no time in the past had Orphanides warned him about the exposure to the Greek debt.
However, President Christofias’ assertion was recently placed in serious doubt following the leak of a bundle of letters from Mr Orphanides to the government showing that he had repeatedly asked to meet Christofias, warning of the dire straits the economy was entering.