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Cyprus banks to remain closed until Thursday

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 26th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a statement that has shocked the island nation already reeling from economic setbacks, all Cyprus banks will remain closed until Thursday, the central bank has announced.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - Finance Minister Michael Sarris says that the decision was rendered in order to "ensure the smooth functioning of the entire banking system." The measure was made on the recommendation of the Central Bank Governor Panicos Demetriades.

All but two of the country's largest lenders, Laiki and Bank of Cyprus, would reopen on Tuesday morning, authorities say.

A withdrawal limit from ATMs of 100 euros, or $130 in U.S. dollars a day is expected to continue.

Cyprus banks have been closed since March 16 to avert a run on deposits. Politicians here have struggled to come up with a plan that would raise enough funds to qualify for an international bailout.

An earlier, very controversial plan to seize up to 10 percent of people's bank accounts had spooked depositors and was soundly rejected by politicians.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades says that the nation's bailout deal with the EU was "painful," but the best under the circumstances. 

The newly elected conservative president said he had taken the "painful decisions to save the country from bankruptcy" and pledged that Cyprus "would find its feet again."

Anastasiades said his mission during talks with international creditors had been an "extremely difficult task with one sole aim - to achieve the salvation of our country through the consolidation and streamlining of our banking system."

He assured that the measures will be "very temporary.

"The central bank will implement capital controls on transactions," he said in the address. "I want to assure you that this will be a very temporary measure that will gradually be relaxed."

Popular Bank, the island's second largest bank, also known as Laiki, will be closed and all deposits below 100,000 euros will be shifted to the Bank of Cyprus, the island's top lender, to create a "good bank."

Deposits above 100,000 euros in both banks, which are not guaranteed under EU law, will be frozen and used to resolve Laiki's debts and recapitalize the Bank of Cyprus.

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