NICOSIA, Cyprus – Cyprus Finance Minister Michalis Sarris resigned Tuesday after less than five weeks in the job, as the government begins an investigation into how the country’s economy nearly collapsed last month.
President Nicos Anastasiades accepted Sarris’ resignation, which came as Cyprus finalized the details of its bailout with international creditors. Harris Georgiades, the 41-year-old former labor minister, will become the new head of finance.
Sarris, 66, was appointed to the position after Anastasiades’ Conservatives won general elections in February, days before the island was overwhelmed by its financial crisis.
The minister, a former World Bank official who helped negotiate Cyprus’ euro membership in 2008, has come under strong criticism for his handling of the bailout negotiations. On top of that, last year he was the head of Laiki Bank, one of the troubled banks at the heart of the country’s financial problems.
Sarris told reporters that he decided to step down to not compromise the work of investigators.
“To ease the work of this committee, I’ve thought that it would be appropriate for me to put my resignation at the disposal of the president of the republic, which I did,” he said. Anastasiades praised the move, hailing Sarris’ political sensibility.
Earlier Tuesday, the president appointed a panel of three former supreme court judges to investigate the country’s plunge to the edge of bankruptcy.
Cyprus has been given a 10 billion euro ($12.8 billion) bailout from its lenders after agreeing to overhaul its oversized banking sector, which is flush with foreign deposits, including billions from Russia.