Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Ministry denies stalling in Michaelides case

Dinos Michaelides

By George Psyllides
THE JUSTICE ministry denied on Saturday it was dragging its feet in investigating a Syrian businessman with links to former minister Dinos Michaelides, currently on trial in Greece on corruption charges.
The ministry was responding to a report by Greece’s Athens News Agency on Friday, which said Cypriot authorities had remained silent about Fouad al-Zayat, who is also being tried – in absentia – in Greece.
“The investigations concerning the Greek authorities’ request about Syrian businessman Fouad al-Zayat and other matters are ongoing,” the ministry said.
“More details cannot be provides since the investigation is ongoing.”
Al-Zayat, who has Cypriot citizenship, is thought to have facilitated the purchase of Russian-made Tor-M1 anti-aircraft missiles by Greece.
He is accused of channelling a $10 million kickback to former Greek defence minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos through Michaelides.
Former interior minister Michaelides is faced with charges related to money laundering as a result of bribery.
Al-Zayat, reportedly in Syria or Lebanon, had written to prosecutors denying any links to Tsohatzopoulos and the Tor-M1 deal.
Al-Zayat also denied any links to Michailidis
The news agency said that Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides has forwarded a list of questions to the justice minister regarding al-Zayat.
The spokesman is asking why the businessman was still free and whether the lawyer who directs his companies had been questioned by police.
He also asked whether the businessman’s bank accounts had been opened and wondered whether the failure to arrest him should be attributed to the authorities’ inability or to “assume that some people are protecting him because they fear his revelations”.



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