The Greek court of appeals has rubberstamped a request by the Cypriot Justice ministry for the questioning of former Laiki Bank boss Andreas Vgenopoulos, Attorney-general Costas Clerides announced on Thursday.
The Greek financier is thought by many to be one of the key figures in the banking meltdown of 2013, which brought down Cyprus’ second-largest lender – Laiki Bank, which he headed for years – and left the largest one – Bank of Cyprus – critically wounded.
As part of investigations into possible criminal offences with regard to the economic collapse, Cyprus authorities have requested assistance from their Greek counterparts, by way of questioning Vgenopoulos and his associate at Laiki Efthimios Bouloutas on their behalf.
The request was approved, and Vgenopoulos and right-hand man Efthimios Bouloutas were summoned for questioning in Athens last September.
But following an appeal against the decision to approve legal assistance requested by the Cypriot investigators, they were able to stall their questioning.
Daily Politis reported that the argument presented by Vgenopoulos for his appeal was that Greek authorities should not meet the request for legal assistance, on grounds that Cyprus failed to meet similar requests when he sued media in Cyprus.
The stalling came to an end on Thursday, when Clerides announced on state TV that their appeals were rejected.
According to the AG, the Greek court’s decision relates to a case in which the offence of manipulating Laiki’s share price are being investigated.
“[Vgenopoulos’ and Bouloutas’] appeals were examined by a judge, and by the full bench of the court of appeals subsequently, who rejected them,” Clerides said.
Asked whether there could be more obstacles to the two men’s questioning, the AG said he was not fully aware of the Greek justice system, and how it might function in such a case.
“The fact that some time has passed until a final decision was made has been disappointing, but this development is satisfying, as it indicates that the justice system operates functionally,” he said.