By George Psyllides
Five former Bank of Cyprus (BoC) officials pleaded not guilty on Tuesday in connection with providing misleading information concerning the lender’s capital needs back in 2012.
The five were formally charged on Tuesday after the court rejected their pre-trial objections, except one.
Former board chairmen Theodoros Aristodemou and Andreas Artemis, former CEOs Andreas Eliades and Yiannis Kypris, and former deputy CEO Yiannis Pehlivanides are facing charges of conspiring to manipulate the stock market and defraud investors in connection with “failing to inform the public that the [Bank of Cyprus’] capital needs had increased significantly from the €200 million reported on May 10, 2012”.
The Criminal Court accepted part of one pre-trial objection and ordered the prosecution to clarify the third charge, which relates to the chairman providing misleading information for the bank’s capital deficit during a speech at the AGM and a subsequent Q&A.
The court set the next hearing on June 2 but it was met with the objections of the defence who asked for the trial to start in September so that expert witnesses were given time to study the evidence.
The prosecution did not object to the defences’ request.
Presiding Judge Lena Papadopoulou reiterated that the case had been filed some six months ago while the offenses were allegedly committed in 2012.
She set the next hearing for June 16.
Defence lawyers had been raising pre-trial motions since the start of the proceedings, initially arguing that double jeopardy applied and citing mistrial, as the defendants – with the exception of Artemis – had been heavily fined for the same offences earlier by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC).
After this motion was rejected, Artemis’ lawyer Polys Polyviou filed for Supreme Court referral – asking for the dismissal of the case against his client – arguing that the CySEC decision is void and illegal as a result of the committee’s misinterpretation of legal clauses.
This was also rejected on Tuesday.