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News 20 Mar 13

Serbia Urged to Aid Threatened Savers in Cyprus

As Cyprus crisis worsens, secretary of Serbian banks association says Belgrade should compile a list of Serbian savers and help those most in need.

Tanjug, Blic
Belgrade

Veroljub Dugalic, from the Association of Serbian Banks, says Serbia should compile a list of its citizens with savings in Cypriot banks and offer them aid if their money is clean.

Belgrade should assist those who can explain where their money came from and why they kept it in Cyprus, he said.

Dugalic explained that by law, Serbian citizens are not allowed to keep savings in Cyprus unless they live or work in that country. 

So far, only the Serbian Tax Administration could have sought such data, but the Cypriot banks would have refused such requests as a trade secret.

“Now we have a good chance to say, ‘We are a humane country that wants to jump in and help,’” Dugalic told Pink television on March 19. 

Some estimates say that thousands of Serbs have money in Cyprus bank accounts.

According to the Serbian Business Register, 1,039 companies in Serbia are offshore companies registered in Cyprus. 

This, however, does not mean they keep their money on the island, as their money is mainly flowing in Serbia.

However, Cyprus banks were widely used in the past by people close to the regime of former strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who illicitly pumped money from the state budget and kept it in Cyprus.

The Serbian media routinely claim that numerous tycoons keep their money in Cyprus. 

Cyprus banks, as well as stock exchange, have been closed since March 18, fearing a run on accounts.

This came after the Cyprus parliament rejected the terms of an EU and IMF bailout. 

This offered Nicosia a €10 billion bailout package if the country taxed bank deposits by up to almost 10 per cent in order to collect €5.8 billion .

The country’s banks were heavily exposed to the crisis in Greece and, according to EU finance ministers, two of the biggest banks could collapse without a bailout.

Before the vote, President Nicos Anastasiades urged all parties to support the proposal, saying Cyprus risked going bankrupt. 

Of about €68 billion deposited on Cyprus, 40 per cent is hold by foreigners, mainly Russians.

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