(MENAFN - AFP) Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades wants the central bank governor axed in frustration at delays in approving the new board of the Bank of Cyprus, the island's largest lender, media reported Thursday.
Anastasiades told a television channel he was unhappy with governor Panicos Demetriades' performance, and was seeking legal action for his removal because he no longer has confidence in him.
"I am investigating and putting together evidence that constitutes weaknesses or inadequacies of performance in his duties," Anastasiades told local channel Mega TV in an interview broadcast late on Wednesday.
"As a consequence, I will decide on the prospect of referring the case to the Supreme Court."
Under the constitution the central bank chief cannot be sacked, so a president wanting to replace him must seek to do so through the courts.
A central bank statement issued after the Anastasiades interview said it regretted his comments.
"It is with sadness we observe statements by the President of the Republic as an attempt to undermine the independent office of the Governor and take guardianship of the institution," it said.
When asked about delays in the central bank approving the board members of the country's largest lender Bank of Cyprus (BoC), Anastasiades said: "This cannot go on any longer."
He said the governor should have evaluated all of the candidates before a BoC general meeting last week.
A general meeting last week of shareholders voted in 16 new board members -- six of whom are Russian, including the vice chairman.
The president said he had warned Demetriades not to drag his feet on the issue because the uncertainty over the bank's future would rattle confidence in an already fragile economic landscape.
"I can no longer allow inaction to threaten our country," he said.
The central bank statement called assessing the suitability of the newly elected board "a very important supervisory function".
"The evaluation is done carefully and based on the criteria of the European Banking Authority, in order to protect the credibility of the Bank of Cyprus and avoid mistakes made in the past," it said.
The president also accused Demetriades of travelling to international conferences rather than help the recession-hit economy get back on its feet.
"I will not allow anyone who holds such a high position to prefer to use most of their time abroad rather than exercise their duties to the full," he said.
But the central bank statement dismissed the accusation, saying: "The view conveyed about the governor's absence is groundless. The Governor of the CBC performs his services diligently and beyond any work schedule."
Past speculation that Nicosia wanted to remove Demetriades prompted a swift response from European Central Bank (ECB) chief Mario Draghi, who reminded Cyprus that the governor was independent and above politics.
Cyprus in March agreed a 10-billion-euro (13-billion) rescue package with the European Commission, ECB and International Monetary Fund to bail out its troubled economy and bloated banking system.
The deal included a restructuring of banks, with the island's second-largest lender, Laiki, wound up and its good assets folded in to the BoC.
There was a 47.5 percent haircut on deposits over 100,000 euros at BoC as part of the bailout deal.
The government has said the economy cannot move forward unless there is stability at the Bank of Cyprus.
Demetriades -- a Leicester University professor appointed by Anastasiades' communist predecessor Demetris Christofias -- has come under mounting criticism for his handling of the bailout and the banking crisis aftermath.
Matters were made worse on Wednesday when a leaked central bank document called Cypriot journalists "ignorant".