Cyprus Mail

Vgenopoulos lashes back implicating former minister

Ex-Laiki strongman Vgenopoulos asked for more time to respond

By George Psyllides

ANDREAS Vgenopoulos yesterday revealed the names of two persons with political ties who are linked to a company that is under investigation as part of the probe into the collapse of the economy.

The former Laiki Bank strongman said Takis Klerides, who served as finance minister in Glafkos Clerides’ second presidency between March 1999 and February 2003, and Stavros Stavrou, who was appointed chairman of Cyprus Airways by Demetris Christofias in 2012, are partners with Greek ship-owner Michalis Zolotas’ Focus Maritime Corporation.
Focus reportedly paid a million euros to a company belonging to the daughter of former Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou and allegedly funded main opposition AKEL and ruling DISY with €1.5m and €500,000, respectively.

Christodoulou, his daughter and her former husband, have been charged in connection with the payments.

“I don’t know if these people gave money to parties, I don’t know if they have committed an offence,” Vgenopoulos said.

AKEL denies receiving any money from Focus and is suing a paper that reported the allegation, while DISY said it only received €50,000 and not half a million, and that the money was used to help transfer party voters during a previous election.

Vgenopoulos, who has been blamed by politicians and the House Ethics Committee for the collapse of the bank he once controlled and the subsequent meltdown of the financial sector, had warned he would publish the names after state broadcaster CyBC apparently decided not to run an interview he gave to one of its reporters.

In a statement issued yesterday together with excerpts from the interview, he said Zolotas was not his friend and nor an associate, as Cypriot media had reported, and that the shipowner had ties with Laiki Bank long before he came onto the scene.

Vgenopoulos said he had asked Zolotas to issue a statement to clarify his relation with him and explain his acts to the Cypriot people, but the Greek shipowner had refused.

Vgenopoulos also claimed that in the ten months that Laiki was under state administration, it freed collateral used for loans afforded to Zolotas without an exchange for security.

The lender made no effort either to claim its dues between November 2011 and March 2013 when it was decided to shut it down as part of the island’s bailout deal, Vgenopoulos said.

“Mr. Zolotas was a member and associate of the political and financial establishment and coincidentally he has two partners today, whom he had since 2005, one being an AKEL member and the other a DISY member,” Vgenopoulos said.

Vgenopoulos said he will not be intimidated “and I am telling them the Cypriot people will learn the whole truth and to dispel any suspicion that there could be trade-offs or compromise, I am starting my revelations from today.”

Klerides and Stavrou issued a joint response, saying that in 2004 they were investment advisers to people who invested in maritime companies in which Zolotas also participated.

The investors included “big names” of the international maritime industry including Belgium, Norway, England, Monaco and Greeks living abroad.

Cooperation with the particular investment scheme ended a few years ago.

“There was no funding from Greek or Cypriot banks,” the announcement said.

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