Arab Today, arab today cyprus finance minister off to russia for loan talks
Last Updated : GMT 04:13:30
Arab Today, arab today
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Cyprus finance minister off to Russia for loan talks

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Cyprus finance minister off to Russia for loan talks

Nicosia - AFP

Cyprus Finance Minister Michalis Sarris was heading to Moscow on Tuesday amid an explosion of anger in Russia at a EU bailout deal for the island that could see Russian investors lose billions of euros. Local media said that the main aim of the visit was to discuss a 2.5-billion-euro loan that Moscow extended to Nicosia in 2011 at a rate of 4.5 percent. Sarris\'s brief was to lower that rate and extending the loan\'s expiration date until 2020 from 2016, the reports said. Moscow was reported to be seeking in exchange details about Russian billionaires who held accounts on the island. Russia was also said to be interested in buying a majority stake in Cypriot lender Patriot Bank that is in need of rescue. However, the discussions could be awkward in the wake of the weekend announcement that under the terms of a 10-billion-euro ($13-billion) bailout for debt-laden Cyprus agreed by EU leaders, a controversial levy will be slapped on bank savings. The move has raised widespread anger in Cyprus, but also in Russia, where investors have placed vast amounts of cash in the island\'s banks. Estimates vary but the Moody\'s rating firm estimates that Russian companies and banks keep up to $31 billion in Cyprus. The figure accounts for between a third and half of all Cypriot deposits. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday hammered the proposed tax as \"unfair, unprofessional and dangerous\". Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev too slammed the harsh terms of the deal. \"We should say this directly: this simply looks like the confiscation of other people\'s money,\" Russian news agencies quoted Medvedev as saying. \"I do not know who the author of this idea is, but this is what it looks like.\" Several analysts said the measure was meant to make sure that Brussels did not spend billions propping up the at-times ill-gotten gains of rich Russians, who are widely reported to have exploited Cyprus\'s reputation as a tax haven. Cyprus has repeatedly denied the allegations of being soft on \"dirty money\" and offered to open its accounts to international inspection.

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