After being told that the Cypriot business model was broken, the ever-resilient people of this ‘storm in a teacup’ island have, by all appearances, taken up their entrepreneurial sickles to make hay while the Troika sun shines. As the FT reports, the hunt is on for many Cypriot bank account holders to find ways to circumnavigate the new Draconian capital controls – and get their money off the island. It seems that this ‘need’ is being addressed by friendly ‘unidentified’ locals who are willing to help transfer money across the border (since there is a EUR3,000 limit) for a mere 20% upfront fee. “There are some dubious capital outflows out of Cyprus as we speak,” one senior Eurozone official noted, “and… not only Russians.” At least three people have been stopped attempting to cross the border with more than EUR 200,000 in cash on their person – their money was confiscated.
Via The FT,
The hunt is on for many Cypriots to find ways to circumnavigate the new Draconian capital controls and get their money off the island.
At least three people have attempted to flee the island in recent weeks with more than €200,000 in cash on their person, according to official sources. The money was in all cases confiscated and the people questioned by the authorities.
Sergei Tyulenev, a Russian businessman, says he received a call on Thursday – the day the capital controls were implemented – from Cypriots he did not wish to identify offering to help him move what he implied was more than €1m out of a collapsing local bank.
The move would have seen his money transferred from the now-failed Laiki Bank, where deposits over €100,000 are likely to see substantial write-offs, to Hellenic Bank, a comparatively healthy Cypriot subsidiary of a Greek bank.
There was a catch though, on top of the illegality of the move. “They said I had to pay €200,000 up front. I refused,” said Mr Tyulenev, speaking from Limassol, a town dubbed “Limassolgrad” for its high proportion of Russian residents.
The Financial Times has seen no official reports of illegal financial dealings at the banks. Those calling Mr Tyulenev may not have been able to follow through with their offer or may have been stopped in their attempts by the financial regulators.
“There are some dubious capital outflows out of Cyprus as we speak,” one senior eurozone official directly involved with negotiations with Cypriot officials said before the banks had reopened. “I’m sure it’s ‘the friends’, and the friends are not only Russians.”
Some 18 per cent of the deposits held in Cypriot banks by residents of other eurozone countries were pulled out in February, according to figures from the Central Bank of Cyprus. Such deposits in Cyprus had fallen 41 per cent since last June to €3.9bn.