Cyprus Mail

Vgenopoulos: Cyprus has no respect for rule of law

Andreas Vgenopoulos

By Angelos Anastasiou

Failed Laiki Bank’s former boss Andreas Vgenopoulos lashed out anew on Monday in response to last Friday’s worldwide asset-freezing injunction against him, slamming the Cyprus political and economic establishment and hinting at having lost trust in the Cypriot judiciary.

Vgenopoulos and 11 others, including his right-hand man Efthimios Bouloutas and Kyriakos Mageiras, as well as his investment group MIG, are defendants in a civil suit brought against them by legacy Laiki’s administrator Andri Antoniades, who claimed they abused their power in running Laiki.

She alleged they knowingly took imprudent banking decisions in favour of MIG or its subsidiaries – in which they simultaneously held high-ranking positions, creating an alleged conflict of interest – thus violating their fiduciary duty to Laiki’s shareholders.

Antoniades had asked the Nicosia District Court to order the freezing of the defendants’ assets so that any risk of their dissipation – the defendants selling them off, for example, or moving them out of the court’s jurisdiction – could be mitigated.

The court had initially upheld Antoniades’ request in May 2013, but the three defendants appealed the ruling, only to see their appeal dismissed last Friday.

In its latest decision, the court ordered that combined assets in excess of €5 billion be frozen worldwide in what is known as a Mareva order, which forbids transactions relating to the defendants’ assets until the case is tried or until otherwise decided by the court.

It should be noted, however, that the execution of a Mareva order in jurisdictions other than that of the issuing court is at the discretion of the host jurisdiction, which may or may not opt to enforce the order.

In response to the latest developments, Vgenopoulos’ letter added the Cypriot justice system to his target-list, suggesting its decision was politically motivated, and maintained a previously employed Greeks-as-scapegoats theme.

“I do not wish to comment on the judicial pre-electoral decisions of the Cypriot political and economic establishment against Greeks of Greece [as distinct from Greek Cypriots], except to remind that I have long noted Cyprus’ disregard for the rule of law, which has negated any preconditions for a fair trial”, he said.

Vgenopoulos went back on the offensive, citing “courts of other countries” that would later vindicate him, before those “temporarily celebrating” are finally judged by the International Court of Arbitration, where Vgenopoulos, MIG and other businessmen have brought a case against the Republic of Cyprus.

They are seeking damages in excess of €1 billion – the sum total of their investment in the failed banking behemoth – for “illegal actions or omissions leading to the collapse of Laiki Bank.”

“The arbitration proceedings, despite stalling efforts by the Cyprus Republic, have already started and are ongoing,” he said.

“In this context, I wish to make public that the justice ministry of Cyprus has denied judicial assistance to the Greek criminal justice authorities illegally and in violation of international treaties to which Cyprus is a signatory, thus preventing the summoning of Andri Antoniades and Antonis Glykis … regarding the untruthful statements on which the freezing injunctions were based,” he said.

Glykis, the lawyer representing legacy Laiki in its civil suit against Vgenopoulos, testified under oath that Vgenopoulos, Bouloutas and Mageiras had not acted in good faith during their reign at Laiki, and his testimony – damning of the trio’s alleged role in the collapse of Laiki – formed the basis of argumentation for the court’s interim asset-freezing ruling.

“It is thus obvious that the sole endeavour of the political and economic establishment of Cyprus is to turn public opinion away from the true culprits of the country’s economic destruction through a system that holds no respect for the international rule of law,” he said.

Vgenopoulos signed off his letter with a thinly-veiled threat, referring to an interview he gave to Cyprus public broadcaster’s CyBC which was mysteriously shelved by the channel’s management. Vgenopoulos had warned that, should the public station refuse to broadcast it, he would seek alternative means of airing it.

“Tomorrow [Tuesday] the interview that the CyBC refused to broadcast will be aired,” he said without specifying the medium. “Once my revelations become known, I will thenceforth refer to the political and economic establishment as one of laundering, criminal offences and developers.”

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