Cyprus Mail

Defence claims mistaken identity as Moldovan fraud case begins

By Andria Kades

THE hearing of a 30-year-old Moldovan man suspected of a $3.5m fraud began on Thursday with his defence lawyer, Ilias Konaris claiming authorities got the wrong man.

Although the suspect was arrested on August 28 with an international arrest warrant issued by the U.S, Konaris said his client’s name was spelt in different ways.

Prosecutor Marina Spiliotopoulou said the suspect admitted to the police he was the wanted man after his arrest and all documents sent by American authorities had his name spelt out both ways.

Additionally, they had the same date of birth and authorities confirmed it was the same person with the same characteristics.

Nevertheless, Konaris told the court he was evaluating whether he would be taking the case to the Supreme court under the premise police had detained someone else.

On the witness stand, police said after he was arrested they confirmed his name, his birth certificate and checked the updated list of arrivals and departures.

US authorities want the suspect extradited, but the case has been adjourned several times. Justice minister Ionas Nicolaou already authorised the initiation of proceedings for his extradition to the US and a ministry official will be attending a future hearing as a witness.

On Thursday, Iliadis requested another adjournment saying he wanted to evaluate more documents, a request that was denied by judge Panikos Michaelides saying the case could not be delayed any longer.

The date for the new hearing was set for December 1 and 2. Until then, the suspect will be held in the central prisons, where he has been staying since his arrest.

The 30-year-old is accused of conspiring with others to illegally transfer sums in excess of $3.5m 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 him 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.

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