Cyprus Central Bank governor Constantinos Herodotou said a new culture of compliance in banks on anti-money laundering since 2013 is beginning to be recognised abroad.
“Since 2013-2014, the banking sector has also been enhancing the anti-money laundering and counter terror financing efforts,” Herodotou told the 9th Nicosia Economic Congress.
It is clear, he said “that a new culture of compliance is being established at the Cyprus banks.”
He said anti-money laundering efforts “are beginning to be recognised abroad.”
This, he argued, is due to better cooperation between Cyprus authorities and banks with foreign authorities and banks and to the “coordinated and targeted effort initiated by the Central Bank of Cyprus, the Association of Cyprus Banks, the banks themselves, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.”
“This effort aims to inform our partners and stakeholders of the progress made so far but has also enabled us to open and strengthen international relationships that will allow closer and better cooperation against money laundering and terrorist financing.”
"I truly believe that this effort and project is a great example of coordination and cooperation between Cyprus Authorities and entities and shows that we can achieve a lot when we work together on common objectives.”
According to Herodotou, current growth is much better than what drove GDP growth in the pre-crisis years but “we still have work to do relating mainly to legacy issues in order to strengthen our gains further”.
“There has been tremendous progress in the post-crisis years to restructure our economy and our banking sector and to enhance the prospects of a brighter future for the citizens of our country.”
“GDP growth has been restored…we consider it sustainable because it is very broad based…There is no single reliance on any one sector,” he added.
He acknowledged “there is also no doubt that there are significant interactions between the challenges we are facing and the effective participation of the Central Bank in eurosystem policy formulation.”
Referring to NPLs, the island’s top banker said there has been “tremendous progress” during the past years.
At their peak, NPLs were roughly €28 bln whereas now they are around €11 bln in the banking sector.
“This is a significant reduction, especially when compared to the size of the GDP of the country…the reduction is almost equal to 90% of our GDP”.
The Central Bank Governor pointed out however “there is still a significant amount of legacy NPLs that we have to deal with in order to bring the relevant rations at the threshold levels required.”
Herodotou said that with the legislative changes approved by the Parliament last year the banks “now have a complete range of options or tools they can use to deal more effectively with NPLs.”
He said various joint ventures between Cyprus banks and specialist loan servicers should also start delivering results within 2019.