By Stefanos Evripidou
THE SENTENCING of former Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou in relation to tax offences covering a €1 million undeclared cash transfer from a Greek shipowner has been set for October 27.
Christodoulou pleaded guilty last month to six charges of tax offences after the state went after him over the transfer of €1m to the company managed by his daughter in 2007, just a few months after his term as governor expired.
His daughter Athina and her former husband, Andreas Kizourides, were acquitted.
The prosecution later suspended seven lesser charges.
State prosecutor Andreas Aristides yesterday presented the facts of the case in court, noting that on July 27, 2007, Focus Maritime Corp gave €1m to A.C Christodoulou Consultants Ltd.
On November 25, 2008, when filing the company’s tax form for the year 2007, Christodoulou left out the €1m payment for the company, declaring total revenue of €335,082 instead of €1,335,082
As such, the company paid €26,802 in tax instead of €127,015, resulting in a loss of €100,213 in collectable taxes for the state.
The prosecutor listed a number of other occasions where Christodoulou submitted incorrect tax forms for the company, charges for which the former governor has pleaded guilty.
In one case, he declared that the company’s shareholders received €167,060 in dividends, when the real sum was €1,128,000.
After criminal proceedings were launched, in August 2013 the accused submitted new revised tax statements for the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, declaring real income, and subsequently paying the full tax owed to the state.
Christodoulou’s defence lawyer Constantinos Kallis pleaded for leniency in sentencing, citing mitigating factors.
Kallis referred specifically to his client’s subsequent compliance with his tax obligations, noting the practice of Inland Revenue to go after owed taxes rather than pursue criminal responsibilities that may arise. He also argued that a large number of citizens do not even have a tax file.
Kallis referred to Christodoulou’s serious health problems; to the time passed between the offences and the launch of criminal proceedings against him; his clean criminal record; the fact he pleaded guilty to six charges, showing in practice his remorse; his participation with EOKA in the anti-colonial struggle in the late 1950s; and his contribution to society as a minister and governor, posts he served with zeal, selflessness, skill and competence, argued the lawyer.
Kallis also referred to his client’s age, 76, and the fact he suffered embarrassment, denigration and vilification from the media over the case.
The lawyer proposed a monetary penalty as an appropriate sentence, arguing that his client, at 76, cannot be rehabilitated with a custodial sentence.
Meanwhile, Aristides highlighted that the sentencing will only relate to the deliberate omission to declare the full amount of revenue to the taxman in a bid to avoid taxation.
He clarified that the Legal Service will continue investigations into a second aspect of the case, concerning the manner in which the amount was obtained, as well as its transfer from an account in Marfin Egnatia Bank in Greece, to Marfin Laiki Bank in Cyprus.
Data sent by the Greek authorities is currently being examined by the authorities.
He warned that the offences under investigation are usually committed by reputable people of high socio-economic status within the context of their work, making criminal prosecution difficult as offences are very often hidden under the “cloak of legality”.
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.
Speaking after he pleaded guilty to six charges last month, Christodoulou 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 offences.