By Angelos Anastasiou
The Nicosia criminal court on Tuesday issued an interim decision rejecting pre-trial objections raised by five out of six defendants in the Bank of Cyprus trial.
Five of the bank’s former senior officials, as well as the lender itself, are accused of deliberately misinforming investors with regard to the bank’s capital position in 2012.
In addition to the Bank of Cyprus, indicted are former CEO Andreas Eliades, his successor Yiannis Kypri, former board chairman Andreas Aristodemou, former vice chairman Andreas Artemi and former first deputy CEO Yiannis Pehlivanides.
They are facing charges of market manipulation and conspiracy to defraud investors in connection with “non-disclosure to the public that the bank’s capital needs had risen significantly relative to the amount of €200 million, which was announced on May 10, 2012”.
With the exception of Artemi, all had motioned for the suspension or dismissal of the case against them, citing pending Supreme Court appeals they had filed against a Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) ruling, which imposed hefty administrative fines on them for the same offence.
But in its ruling, the court argued that the Supreme Court appeals against the CySEC cannot be considered criminal proceedings, but even if they were, the court does not find that the appeals relate to the same or similar facts, or the offences for which the accused may be found guilty.
The court also noted its disagreement with the notion that the defendants’ rights to a fair trial could be hindered by the resumption of the trial.
“On the contrary, divesting the courts’ authority could bring them into disrepute in the eyes of an independent observer,” the court said.
Additionally, the court said it did not agree with the argument that moving ahead with the case is oppressive or unfair to the defendants, and therefore no issue of abuse arises.
“Therefore, the motion is denied,” the court said.
Artemi’s lawyers moved to dismiss the case against him on the basis of “autrefois acquit” – Latin for “previously acquitted” – as the CySEC had exempted him from administrative sanctions, but the court denied this as well.
The trial will resume on May 18 when Eliades’ lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou may file an objection on the charges facing his client.
Defence lawyers Demetris Araouzos and Chris Triantafillides have also requested a two-week continuance so they can decide on whether to file for Supreme Court referral.