Cyprus Mail

President asks AG to probe law firm link with airline (updated)

President Nicos Anastasiades

By George Psyllides

President Nicos Anastasiades has asked attorney-general to investigate his former law firm and apply the full force of the law if necessary, after it emerged that two of its lawyers took part in a meeting to discuss the acquisition of Cyprus Airways by Ryanair, despite saying it was no longer representing the low-cost airline.

“I would like to make it emphatically clear that I expect you to apply the full force of the law if you determine a possible violation.”

The president reiterated that he will show zero tolerance for anyone who breaks the law.

The president’s reaction came after lawyer and former DISY MP Eleni Vrahimi wrote to the attorney-general asking him to look into the possibility of disciplinary or criminal offenses being committed.

The Presidential Palace said some people insisted on linking Anastasiades despite him being cleared by the auditor-general and the minutes of two cabinet meetings, which showed that he was against opting for Ryanair.

“The matter does not concern the president,” Nicos Christodoulides said earlier.

The issue came up on Monday when Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides presented the findings of his probe into whether Anastasiades himself had anything to do with Ryanair’s bid to buy off the now defunct Cyprus Airways.

The probe found no indication that Anastasiades was involved in the process, but its findings raised questions about the law firm that carries his name. The main partners in the firm are the president’s two daughters and two other lawyers.

The probe was launched after it was reported that the firm had represented the low-cost airline back in September when it had submitted a bid to buy the former national carrier.

Prior to its shutdown, CY had tried to secure a strategic investor. Ryanair and Aegean Air were the favourites, before the airline ceased operations early in January.

The law firm said they initially acted as legal advisors for Ryanair in relation to Cyprus Airways but subsequently terminated their relationship with the Irish airline.

The firm had released a letter to the low-cost airline, dated September 30, through which it had informed Ryanair in writing that they were no longer interested in acting as their legal advisors in the process.

Ryanair was taken over by Soteris Pittas LLC.

However, in a meeting on October 31, along with Pittas were two lawyers who, as it transpired later, worked for the Anastasiades law firm.

The two apparently tried to disguise their identities by signing with different names.

The auditor-general said this was wrong, but he added that he had found no evidence that the Anastasiades law firm had tried to influence the procedure in any way.

“The law firm made a mistake when it decided to represent Ryanair and made an even worst mistake when it sent two of its lawyers to work with the Soteris Pittas law firm, especially since these two lawyers tried to hide the true identity of their employer,” Michaelides said.

The two lawyers present at the meeting were Nicholas Christofinis and Maria Komodromou. They went to the meeting using the names Nicholas Christakis and Maria Kom. Roussou.

In November, when the story emerged, the Cyprus Mail found that the two firms shared three advocates: Maria Komodromou, Nicholas Christofinis, and George Komodromos. Their photos and CVs were on both firms’ websites. They have since been removed from the Pittas website.

When asked about this, Soteris Pittas LLC told the Mail on November 28 that the three were not members of its staff. The three were counsels who could be asked to act for or with the firm in certain cases, it said.

The firm added that none of the three advocates “are” or “will” be involved or engaged in the process of the possible acquisition of Cyprus Airways by its clients, Ryanair.

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