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Cyprus

AG: House probe into collapse could damage criminal investigation

Attorney-General Costas Clerides

By George Psyllides 

ATTORNEY-general Costas Clerides has suggested that a parliamentary probe into the collapse of the banking system could do damage to an ongoing criminal investigation currently at a critical juncture.

“In my opinion it is something dangerous, raising the possibility of causing damage to the investigation, which is at a very sensitive point,” Clerides said during a television interview on Tuesday evening.

The attorney-general stressed that he did not dispute the right of the parliament to investigate serious issues but such procedures must be carried out with a lot of caution.

“It is best to avoid public statements and public hearings on some issues,” he said.

Clerides, a former Supreme Court judge, added that the House Ethics Committee should not have summoned former Laiki chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos to testify.

Vgenopoulos, widely viewed as the main culprit behind the downfall of the island’s banking system, has been asked to appear before the committee on December 13.

It was not known on Wednesday whether he would attend. Reports said he had set conditions for travelling to Cyprus – for the hearing to be public, to be allowed to make a five-hour statement, and for experts to be present to help with the technical issues.

Ethics Committee chairman Demetris Syllouris defended the probe and sought to turn the tables on the attorney-general.

Syllouris wondered why the attorney-general’s office did nothing in the past 15 months.

“I am not saying they are dragging their feet. I say parliament did much more than any other institution,” Syllouris said.

He added that if Clerides’ position was to stop the probe immediately “then yes I will stop tomorrow provided we start seeing results.”

“I am more indignant than anyone else to see no one brought to book after 15 months,” Syllouris said.

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