By ALLAN HALL, JAMES CHAPMAN and JILL REILLY
Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiades 'warned' close friends of the financial crisis about to engulf his country so they could move their money abroad, it was claimed on Friday. The respected Cypriot newspaper Filelftheros made the allegation which was picked up eagerly by German media. Germans are angry at the way their country has been linked to the Nazis and Hitler by Cypriots angry at the defunct rescue deal which called for a levy on all savings. The Cyprus newspaper did not say how much money was moved abroad but quoted sources saying the president 'knew about the possible closure of the banks' and tipped off close friends who were able to move vast sums abroad.
Italian media said the 4.5 billion euros left the island in the week before the crisis. Meanwhile sources close to the 'troika' - the IMF, ECB and EU Commission responsible for trying to create a viable rescue deal before Monday - said that attempts to put together a 'plan B' rescue package had failed. 'The coming hours will determine the country's future,' a government spokesman in Nicosia said.
Nearly a full week after the European Union agreed to a €10 billion rescue for the island country of one million people the Cypriot parliament still hasn't approved any new deal. Nicosia hoped to raise its €5.8 billion ($7.53 billion) share of the bailout through a fund based on a portfolio of government assets. Early Friday afternoon, Greek TV station Skai-TV and the newspaper Ta Nea reported the troika has rejected the proposal following a meeting with president Anastasiades.
Troika officials reportedly told the leader it was unlikely the country could raise the funding shortfull with the plan.
They are reportedly sticking to the demand that Cyprus impose a deposit tax, but only on accounts holding sums above €100,000. German government patience is said to be 'wearing very thin,' with Chancellor Merkel reportedly seething at seeing herself caricatured as Hitler on demonstrators' placards in Cyprus. At a special meeting of her party group in parliament on today Mrs Merkel warned that Cyprus' partners may soon 'lose ' and that the country should 'not try to test the troika.'
News magazine Der Spiegegl said participants in the meeting quoted Merkel as saying that Cyprus appears not to have recognized that the business model it has used up until now has ended. At the same time, she added: 'We want Cyprus to remain in the euro zone.' She also said that she hopes the situation in Cyprus doesn't lead to a 'crash'.
Angry crowds demonstrated in Cyprus today as leaders battled to prevent total economic collapse in four days time. Cyprus's government urged lawmakers this afternoon to 'take the big decisions' - MPs are due to start voting on a series of bills that aim to raise the funds the country needs to secure an international bailout before their emergency funding runs out on Monday, triggering a possible exit from the Euro. 'The next few hours will determine the future of the country,' government spokesman Christos Stylianides said in a televised statement before parliament was due to debate.
Outraged protestors gathered outside parliament - Despo Pambaka, 28, a customer services manager at Laiki Bank told The Telegraph: 'I never expected this would happen. They are trying to take our lives, our money. Even in 1974 in the war (with Turkey) they didn't rob us of our deposits. This is not the Europe that we went into. Germany showed her real face. We will not accept it.' This morning it emerged that British savers with Laiki Bank could get the same deal as their Cypriot counterparts.
Laiki Bank, which has three UK branches is not covered by the FSA compensation scheme, unlike Bank of Cyprus, meaning their customers could be hit by the bank restructures. Meanwhile Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras announced that a Greek banking group had begun acquiring the Greek units of Cypriot banks - this would safeguard all the deposits of Greek citizens in Cypriot banks.