By Evie Andreou
Thirty-year old Moldovan Andrey Tsigul, who had been held at Central Prisons on remand since August 29 in connection with a case of a $3.5m fraud, will remain in custody until the hearing for his extradition to the US, Paphos district court ruled on Tuesday.
Paphos district court judge Panicos Michaelides justified his decision based on the fact that the suspect has no ties with Cyprus and on the severity of the case. The extradition hearings are set for October 21 and 22.
Tsigul was arrested in Cyprus on August 28, with an international arrest warrant issued by the United States in connection with allegations of fraud and unauthorised money transfers of over $3.5 million in total.
He is accused of conspiring with others to illegally transfer sums in excess of $3.5 million from the computer of a clerk at a company to a bank in a third country. He is suspected of having conspired to defraud a bank and commit computer fraud in the US between August 2012 and August 2015.
Paphos CID arrested Tsigul after an Interpol wire revealed he had arrived in Cyprus on August 21 and was staying in Paphos. During a search of his dwelling, he consented to the search of a computer, which was seized as evidence. Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou has already authorised the initiation of proceedings for his extradition to the US.
Judge Michaelides said that due to the suspect’s lack of ties with the island, he posed a serious risk of flight, thus his presence at the extradition hearing would not be ensured in the case he was released on bail.
The court also heard that even though the defence lawyer had claimed on Monday that his client has associates in Cyprus who were ready to deposit €100,000 as bail money, this was not the case.
Tsigul’s lawyer tried on Monday to demonstrate that his client is not a flight risk, arguing that he has turned in his travel documents and that he maintains friendly and business relationships in Cyprus. He said the Moldovan could appear at his nearest police station twice every day.
State prosecutor Eleni Loizidou countered that, in similar cases in the past, defendants had fled Cyprus, either via a private jet or yacht, or even through the occupied areas of Cyprus in the north. His passport, Loizidou said, showed that he had visited France, Poland, and Romania, before arriving to Cyprus.