By George Psyllides
Cyprus is following all lawful procedures in the investigation of cases linked to the economic collapse, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Monday, responding to criticism from a former banker widely held responsible for the demise of the island’s banking system.
In a written statement, Nicolaou assured Andreas Vgenopoulos that all lawful procedures were being followed by Cypriot authorities.
“I don’t see the reason why Mr Vgenopoulos or anyone else should be concerned,” the minister said.
“The best thing he ought to have done was to co-operate with Cypriot authorities.”
Vgenopoulos could have given all the information necessary to clear the cases, in that way seizing the chance to argue his position, the minister said.
“Facilitating the investigation can only be achieved through their co-operation.”
Earlier on Monday, Vgenopoulos issued an announcement suggesting recent statements made by Nicolaou violated the principle of the separation of powers and put judicial independence in doubt.
“At the same time, he once more nullified the presumption of innocence of the individuals under investigation,” Vgenopoulos said.
He added that this created the conditions for an unfair trial not befitting a just state, which was a member of the EU.
Former Laiki Bank strongman Vgenopoulos and his right-hand man Efthimios Bouloutas have refused to answer investigators’ inquiries in Cyprus until a Greek court rules on their application to be exempt from questioning.
Authorities want to interview them over allegations of misleading investors and mismanagement that led to the bank’s demise in March 2013.