By Angelos Anastasiou
Although Attorney-general Costas Clerides reconfirmed on Wednesday that some indictments against former bank officials for their role to Cyprus’ economic collapse are almost ready, rumours of imminent arrests are exaggerated, a source from the justice ministry said.
Following side remarks at a memorial service for victims of the Cypriots’ struggle against British colonial rule in 1955 last Sunday, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said that “every effort in every direction is being made to gather the evidence necessary to bring those responsible [for the economic meltdown] to justice”.
He added that for each case, as soon as the Legal Service gives the green light all action necessary will be taken.
And asked to comment on information that the individuals to face prosecution include high-ranking bank officials, the justice minister said that “unfortunately the economic problems were not brought about by low-level bank staff”.
“It was those who were responsible for the management of the banking system, and the country’s economy in the broader sense,” he said.
Nicolaou’s remarks sparked rumours that arrests over the economic meltdown might be imminent, with some singling out former Co-operative Central Bank officials over irregular loans made during their reign.
However, a source from the justice ministry told the Cyprus Mail that no cases have reached this point as of yet, and that any rumours circulating about imminent arrests are “exaggerated”, especially when it comes to specific names.
“These decisions are up to the Legal Service, and once they make them we will all know,” the source said.
Meanwhile, Legal Service boss Clerides said on Wednesday that investigations into the economic collapse continue swiftly, noting that some cases are at an advanced stage, but fell short of committing to a timeline.
Speaking to reporters outside the Supreme Court, Clerides once more urged for patience until “questioning by police” has been concluded.
“Once case files are forwarded to the Legal Service, they will be examined without delay and, if charges can be substantiated, they will be taken to court,” he added.
Asked to comment on the progress of investigations, Clerides cited his standard refusal to offer details in public in connection with ongoing investigations.
“At the very least, no details should be made public that could damage a case,” he argued.
“What I can assure you of is that investigations, conducted by the police, continue at a fast pace, and some cases are at an advanced stage.”