By Peter Stevenson
THE son of former minister Dinos Michaelides, Michalis, was extradited to Greece on Thursday where authorities want to question him as part of a graft inquiry against former defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos.
The Supreme Court rejected last Tuesday, Michalis Michaelides’ appeal against the Limassol district court’s decision to hand him over to Greece.
Michaelides was escorted to Larnaca airport where he was handed over to Greek authorities.
His father Dinos, a former interior minister, has already been handed over to Athens in connection with the same case.
Michaelides senior told Greek authorities last week that a large amount of money found in a bank account came from his son’s business activities that he was not so familiar with.
In his statement in court which was leaked to the media over the weekend, Michaelides said 5.7 million Swiss Francs found in a Swiss bank account were the product of his son’s business dealings with Fouad Al Zayat, a Syrian-born businessman who has been accused of being an arms dealer in the past.
The account belonged to his son Michalis who had however, given a power of attorney to his father.
“My son and Fouad had mutual business ventures outside Greece and Cyprus,” he said, but he could not tell exactly what the money was for.
The former minister said it was just a coincidence that the account in question had been opened on December 12, 2000 and he was given a power of attorney on February 6, 2001 – three days before €2.8 million Swiss Francs were deposited.
He claimed that the power of attorney was in case his son died.
The former minister could not tell Greek authorities why the cash had been deposited in a Swiss Bank and not a Cypriot one if it was fully legal.
Earlier this month, Michaelides, 75, became the first Cypriot government or former government official to be extradited.
Both men deny any wrongdoing.
Tsohatzopoulos, a founding member of Greece’s socialist PASOK party, is facing charges of accepting kickbacks for arms contracts when he was defence minister.
He denies the charges.
Greek prosecutors allege Tsohatzopoulos siphoned funds overseas. They say one of his co-defendants has alleged that Michaelides helped Tsohatzopoulos set up bank accounts, and that they want to question the former Cypriot minister about that.