Greek forced to surrender 500,000 euros at Cyprus customs

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Authorities in Cyprus have confiscated 500,000 euros ($571,450) from a Greek businessman who tried to fly home with the cash after banks on the island refused to let him deposit it.

State radio reported the businessman had arrived in Cyprus from Greece, carrying the money in his luggage in bills of 200 and 500 euros.

It was confiscated when he attempted to take it back to Athens. Authorities were investigating his assertion that Cypriot banks had refused to accept the cash because he had no documents to show where it came from or prove it had been declared to customs.

"The amount was found in the person's possession as he was leaving Cyprus on Monday afternoon," said Demetris Hadjicostis, acting director of Cyprus's customs and excise department.

By law the import and export of currency exceeding 10,000 euros must be declared to customs, Hadjicostis told Reuters. He declined further comment since there was an ongoing investigation.

Deposit outflows from Greece have intensified on investors' concerns about a stand-off between its international creditors and the leftist Syriza party, elected on Jan. 25 on a platform of opposition to its 240 billion euro bailout and the harsh austerity conditions attached.

(Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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