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Cyprus

Former CBC chief admits to tax related charges

Former Central Bank chief Christodoulos Christodoulou (file photo)

By George Psyllides

Former Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou on Friday pleaded guilty to six charges relating to tax offenses in connection with a €1 million cash transfer from a Greek ship-owner to a company managed by his daughter.

His daughter Athina and her former husband, Andreas Kizourides, were acquitted.

The prosecution later suspended seven lesser charges.

Prosecutor Andreas Aristides said the defendant admitted the most serious charges as regards the sentence.

Aristides said the case has two aspects – the first concerns the deliberate omission to declare the amount to the inland revenue department in a bid to avoid taxation.

“The six charges admitted fall in this category,” the prosecutor said.

The second aspect concerns the manner of obtaining the amount, as well as its transfer from an account in Marfin Egnatia Bank in Greece, to Marfin Laiki Bank in Cyprus.

At present, Aristides said, the charges relating to the second aspect that are included on the charge sheet concern the offenses of conspiracy and forgery in two separate instances.

The prosecutor added that requests for assistance had been sent to Greece and the findings of the investigation are being gradually passed on to Cypriot authorities.

A preliminary examination of the evidence showed that Christodoulou could face additional charges, Aristides said.

The former CBC boss has previously claimed that the money was a down payment for consultancy services that would have been provided over ten years to Focus, a company belonging to Michalis Zolotas.

Christodoulou also submitted a copy of an agreement between his daughter’s company and Focus.

Zolotas is said to be an associate of former Laiki strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos whom many hold responsible for the collapse of the island’s banking system.

The transfer in question was allegedly made to the company’s Athens-based bank account in July 2007.

Around two years later, the €1 million plus interest was then allegedly transferred to an account in Laiki Bank.

Christodoulou had served as governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus from 2002 to 2007, and the suspicious transfer was reportedly made a few months after his term expired.

Vgenopoulos has said that Zolotas was not his associate.

In a statement issued in May, Vgenopoulos said Zolotas was not his friend and nor an associate, as Cypriot media had reported, and that the ship-owner had ties with Laiki 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 ship-owner had refused.

Speaking to the media after the hearing, Christodoulou said he had been vindicated by the fact that charges had been dropped.

“I neither stole, nor was I bribed,” he said. “My conscience is clear; I did my duty. I was honest and I have given this country more than I have taken.”

He said the whole affair was a smear campaign and half the island should have been charged with the same offenses. The trial continues on October 16.

 

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