By George Psyllides
NO OFFICIAL information will be given concerning payments made by a company, Focus, to political parties before an ongoing investigation has been completed, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Monday.
“The authorities’ investigation has not gone beyond a certain point, which makes any information regarding the money trails … incomplete and potentially ineffective,” Clerides said in a written statement.
Disclosure or publication of the information currently held by the authorities could be damaging and misleading, he added.
“Instructions have been given to the investigating authorities to continue and extend the probe, both in Cyprus and Greece, in a bid to secure further evidence,” the attorney-general said.
He was referring to Focus Maritime Corporation, which reportedly paid €500,000 directly to DISY in ten instalments of €50,000 each in January and February of 2008, and almost €1.5 million to AKEL – of which €1 million was paid through offshore Abendale Management Corporation in two equal instalments in September 2007, and €450,000 in June 2008 through the audit firm of Kyprianides, Nicolaou & Partners.
Politis newspaper said the transfers were made around the time of Cyprus’ 2008 presidential elections.
Both parties denied any wrongdoing although DISY later admitted to receiving €50,000 from Focus.
Focus is owned by Greek shipowner Michalis Zolotas who is in turn linked to Greek businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos, whom many here blame for the collapse of Laiki Bank.
Focus allegedly received large loans – some without adequate security – from Laiki during the time Vgenopoulos was at the helm of the bank.
AKEL said the announcement refuted the argument on which Politis had based its story: that there was evidence proving that the party had received money from Focus.
Party leader Andros Kyprianou suggested that it was part of a campaign to discredit AKEL, especially in light of next month’s European parliament elections.
“This is the aim, in my view. This is what some people are attempting when it has been proven that DISY took money, they do not talk about DISY and they refer to AKEL when there was absolutely no clue it was linked to this case,” he said.
He did not rule out the party taking legal measures against those who try to defame AKEL.
DISY on the other hand said it continued to expect a full briefing from the legal service and remained at the disposal of the attorney-general.
“Based on the contents of the announcement, we have no other option but to wait for the completion of the investigation,” DISY said.
To socialists EDEK the announcement was proof enough that there was an issue.
Deputy chairman Marinos Sizopoulos called on the two parties to end their delaying tactics, the misinformation, and above all, the “unsuccessful diversions” and work together honestly to resolve the matter.
Sizopoulos said AKEL and DISY must also explain why they had strongly opposed approval of legislation that would ban anonymous contributions and introduce financial transparency.