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Cypriots make cash gift to gov't as they fail to exchange Cyprus pounds: official

Xinhua,December 31, 2017 Adjust font size:

NICOSIA, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Cypriots will make a cash gift of millions to their government on Monday, New Year's Day, by having failed to exchange their old Cyprus pound banknotes with euros, the current legal tender for payments, a Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) official said Saturday.

CBC spokeswoman Aliki Stylianou told the state television that CBC statistics show that people have in their possession old Cyprus pound banknotes, which are no longer legal tender, worth 67 million euros.

"Those who hold pound banknotes could physically take them at the Central bank and exchange them by the end of December at the official rate of the euro when it became the official currency," she said.

Pound holders exchanged old banknotes worth about 100,000 euros during recent days, according to the central bank.

But as Saturday and Sunday, the two last days of 2017, are not working days for the bank and the government, pound holders have lost their chance to exchange them.

That means the government stands to benefit by the amount of the missing banknotes.

"CBC will credit the government's account by about 67 million euros after the holders of pounds failed to claim their money in time," Stylianou said.

The euro was introduced as the official currency of Cyprus in 2008, four years after the eastern Mediterranean island joined the European Union.

The pound rate was fixed at 1.71 euros at the time of its introduction.

Stylianou said that there is no explanation why so much money was not exchanged.

It is believed that each of about 200,000 Cypriot households may have kept a number of banknotes as mementos of the old currency, which was in force for about 100 years. But this does not explain why 67 million euros in pound notes are unaccounted for. Enditem