News / Europe

Cyprus Banks to Remain Closed Until Thursday

A trader looks at his screen on the IG Group trading floor in London March 18, 2013. The surprise decision by eurozone leaders to partially fund a bailout of Cyprus by taxing bank deposits sent shockwaves through financial markets on Monday.
A trader looks at his screen on the IG Group trading floor in London March 18, 2013. The surprise decision by eurozone leaders to partially fund a bailout of Cyprus by taxing bank deposits sent shockwaves through financial markets on Monday.
VOA News
Cyprus banks will remain closed until Thursday to prevent a run on accounts as the Mediterranean island nation considers imposing a first-ever bank deposit tax.

The proposed bank levy has rattled investors. Stock markets throughout the world dropped Monday in the aftermath of the bailout for tiny Cyprus. Stocks in Asia plunged two percent or more, with European and U.S. indexes falling by smaller amounts.

The proposed bank tax would hit everyone with money in Cypriot banks, including foreign nationals.

Cyprus moved to revamp terms of the bank deposit tax imposed by its international lenders as part of a $13 billion bailout to keep from going bankrupt.

Cypriot officials were working with the lenders to cut or eliminate the tax on small investors, while raising it on those with bigger accounts. For the second day in a row, Cyprus's parliament postponed a vote on a new plan and rescheduled it for Tuesday.

  • Bank of Cyprus employees sit in front of riot police during a protest outside Greece's Finance Ministry as the bank remains closed for third day in central Athens, March 21, 2013.
  • People line up at an ATM outside a closed Laiki Bank branch in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 21, 2013.
  • Employees of the Bank of Cyprus take part in a rally in solidarity with Cyprus outside the headquarters of the bank in Athens, Greece, March 20, 2013.
  • International Monetary Fund mission chief Delia Velculescu arrives for a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 20, 2013.
  • A man walks by graffiti that reads "Troika out" in the old city of capital Nicosia, Cyprus, March 19, 2013.
  • Demonstrators raise their arms in protest as Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades's convoy drives to the parliament in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 18, 2013.
  • A protester shouts slogans outside of parliament during a meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 18, 2013.
  • Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades arrives at parliament in Nicosia, Cyprus, March 18, 2013.

Cypriot banks were closed on Monday for a holiday.

Cypriots were angered by the deposit tax, with one domestic worker saying it is unacceptable.

"We cleaning ladies spend our entire days trying to earn some money in order to feed our children, and now they are saying they are going to take it from us?" one woman said.  "It's unacceptable. No. Not a single haircut, we will not accept any kind of haircut.''

Under bailout terms set Saturday by Cyprus's eurozone neighbors and the International Monetary Fund, a one-time tax of 9.9 percent would be imposed on deposits of $131,000 and up, while deposits under $131,000 would be taxed at 6.75 percent.

Analyst Robert Halver of the Baader Bank said the fear is that depositors throughout the eurozone might view the Cyprus experience as reason to start withdrawing their funds from bank accounts. Such a run on banks could create a new crisis for European governments, now in the third year of their debt crisis.

"What has been done in Cyprus is an experiment," Halver said. "If the population has to, in the form of their savings, contribute to rectify the mistakes that have been made in Cyprus, then there is a danger that in other countries people will decide, at the breakfast table, to withdraw their money. If money is withdrawn on a great scale, if we have a bank run, then we see the return of the bank crisis."

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday called the proposed levy "unfair, unprofessional and dangerous."  Russian banks and corporations have billions of dollars in Cypriot banks.

Cypriot media say it is unlikely lawmakers will agree to the terms set in the bailout.  

President Nicos Anastasiades said in a televised address to the nation Sunday if parliament does not approve the levy, Cyprus faces bankruptcy and the possible exit of Cyprus from the eurozone.


Watch related video

Related Video of Cyprus Situationi
X
March 18, 2013 3:23 PM
Residents of Cyprus are angry that their bank deposits are subject to a one-time tax levy as part of a bailout deal for the cash-strapped island. Eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund included the levy as part of a deal to give Cyprus $13 billion to avoid bankruptcy. News of the tax plan sent stocks tumbling Monday in Asia.

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by: DAVID LULASA from: tambua,gimarakwa,hamisi,v
March 19, 2013 6:29 AM
cyprus government should not lose hope even when they havent used the money and see if there are no profits to be realised from the loan...i wonder who has told them that they wont make a profit and hence the need for cypriots account holders to pay for the loan?.

lulasa...president


by: NVO from: USA
March 18, 2013 7:34 PM
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