Cyprus Mail

Court allows crucial verbal testimony in BoC trial

Defence lawyer Polis Polyviou

The defence in the Bank of Cyprus trial on Monday tried, and failed, to get the court to reject witness testimony relating to discussions at bank board meetings.

Taking the stand as witness for the prosecution was Miranda Lazaridou, formerly a PA for the bank’s chairman who took notes when the board convened.

Lazaridou testified that the minutes she kept were not verbatim.

She said for example that if certain matters are not specifically cited in the minutes, that does not mean that certain things were not said.

One example was the mention, during a board meeting, that the bank’s capital shortfall amounted to €500m.

This was mentioned verbally, but was not recorded in the minutes, she said.

Defence lawyer Polis Polyviou asked the court to not allow this testimony. The defendants, he argued, are on trial for their actions and decisions, not for what they may or may not have said.

He also objected on the grounds that, with its line of questioning, the prosecution sought to coach the witness by “refreshing her memory” of what was spoken during these board meetings.

The court dismissed the motion, allowing Lazaridou’s testimony.

Five former BoC top officials, as well as the bank itself, are on trial for market manipulation and misleading investors.

During a previous hearing, former Central Bank (CBC) director Spyros Stavrinakis said they were “surprised” to find out that BoC’s capital shortfall, reported by the lender’s top brass at €200 million in June 2012, was actually double that.

During meetings held in May and June 2012 between top BoC brass and the CBC, the former spoke of a €200 million shortfall, not €400 million.

In a letter to then-CBC governor Panicos Demetriades, dated June 20, 2012 – i.e. one day after its AGM – the bank raised its capital needs to approximately €400 million, Stavrinakis had said.

The trial continues on Friday.


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