Recent changes to the law give banks the opportunity to proceed with the securitisation of non-performing loans and make them available to investors. It is now possible for a broad number of legal entities to engage in activities for acquiring credit facilities in Cyprus. This development expands the range of investment possibilities for credit and financial institutions, as well as private companies, subject to prior authorisation from the Central Bank of Cyprus.
The Ministry of Finance recently published two new decrees that further relax banking restrictions. The first decree clarifies the restrictions that are in place on the use of credit and debit cards and other payment instruments, while the second allows foreign credit institutions and their customers to enjoy relaxed restrictions, subject to certain conditions.
The minister of finance recently published two decrees amending the Enforcement of Temporary Restrictive Measures on Transactions of Foreign Banks in Case of Emergency Law of 2013. The decrees allow for foreign credit institutions and their customers to enjoy relaxed restrictions subject to certain conditions. This update outlines the remaining restrictive measures and exceptions thereto.
The board of directors of the Bank of Cyprus Public Company Ltd recently approved two important decisions, thereby meeting the expectations of its depositors and the general public in Cyprus for enhancing liquidity in the economy. The decisions govern the release of blocked six-month time deposits and the approval of the procedure for transferring the bank's shares respectively.
Under the Banking Law, all persons with access to the records of a bank are prohibited from giving out, divulging, revealing or using for their own benefit any information regarding the account of any individual customer of the bank, unless certain exceptions apply. The rules aim to enhance the trustworthiness of banks and credit institutions and encourage them to impose internal structures in order to ensure compliance.
As a well-established financial services centre and a member of the European Union, Cyprus is one of the best environments in Europe for the provision of banking services. A credit institution which is authorised and supervised by the competent authorities of another EU member state may conduct banking activities in Cyprus either by establishing a branch or by way of provision of services.
A bank is a corporate body licensed to carry out banking business under the Banking Law. A banking business licence is granted only to legal persons established in Cyprus, pursuant to the Companies Law or any other law, or to legal persons established in another country, pursuant to the corresponding legislation of that country. Businesses applying for a banking business licence must fulfil a number of requirements.
The crisis in the Eurozone banking sector, following hot on the heels of the global financial crisis, has impacted on the financial stability of those Cypriot banks that were heavily exposed to Greek government bonds. Guidelines are in place that aim to provide a standard procedure of acquiring control in a Cypriot bank by investors and safeguards to the banking sector by simplifying such procedure.
Group companies with a presence in Cyprus can breathe a sigh of relief in light of a new amendment to the Criminal Code on interest rate ceilings. The applicability of the interest rate ceiling introduced earlier this year to intergroup structures was previously uncertain in terms of scope. However, the amendment has now clarified the arrangements to which the interest rate ceiling provisions do not apply.
The interest rate ceiling, which was introduced earlier in 2011 by an amendment to the Criminal Code, is calculated and published by the Central Bank of Cyprus quarterly. The Central Bank of Cyprus recently published a new interest rate set at 12.57%.
The Law on the Imposition of Special Tax for Credit Institutions recently entered into force. The new law requires all credit institutions to pay a special tax for the 2011 and 2012 tax years. The special tax will be imposed only on banks that operate in Cyprus, including branches of banks that originate from overseas, and will form part of the financial stability fund, to be used for the provision of support in difficult times.
The government recently enacted the Market Abuse Law (102(I)/2016), which implemented the EU Market Abuse Regulation (596/2016). A provision of the regulation which has generated much discussion relates to persons discharging managerial responsibilities and the obligations of persons closely associated with them regarding transactions conducted on their own account concerning the issuer's shares, debt instruments, derivatives or other linked financial instruments.