Cyprus Mail

Supreme Court rejects motion to cancel former bankers’ arrest warrants

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a motion to cancel an arrest warrant for two Greek former bankers who failed to appear before a Cypriot court.

European arrest warrants were issued for former Laiki Bank board members Efthimios Bouloutas and Markos Foros, who failed to appear before the Nicosia district court last week at the inaugural hearing of the first case relating to mismanagement at the failed lender.

The Nicosia district court had convened to rule on whether to refer the case to the criminal court.

The other two defendants, Panayiotis Kounnis and Neoclis Lysandrou, also former board members, were in court.

The four men are accused of having conspired to mislead investors through public statements and inaccurate account reporting in 2011.

In their application, the defendants argued that the court summons had been improperly served and that the Nicosia district court had no authority to issue an arrest warrant since they were Greek nationals living in Greece.

They also claimed that the arrest warrant was a blatant violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights regarding the right to a fair trial.

Their argument was that the court ignored the fact that they were represented at the hearing by their lawyers.

The Supreme Court said it could not find any apparent mistake in the procedure nor a violation of the principles of natural justice.

Based on the charge sheet, the Supreme Court said, the defendants had to be physically present unless otherwise decided by the district court.

The district court was well within its authority to issue a summons or warrant forcing the defendants to appear.

On Friday, the two men appeared before Greek authorities of their own free will.

They were arrested and then released on condition that they don’t leave the country.

Bouloutas and Foros refused to consent to being extradited to the Cypriot authorities, and thus Cyprus’ request for their extradition will be heard by a Greek court.

Laiki faced serious undercapitalisation issues and had to be bailed out with €1.8 billion of taxpayer money in June 2012, but went down in March 2013.

Management of the failed lender was taken over by Marfin Investment Group (MIG) founder and boss Andreas Vgenopoulos in 2006. He promptly recruited a team of Greek nationals to run it, who he has called pejoratively “the Greeks” since the bank’s failure, arguing that the local political and banking establishment had always cast a suspicious eye on them.


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