Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Vgenopoulos: there’s no point in Cyprus continuing to investigate me (Updated: adds AG comment)

Andreas Vgenopoulos

There are no ongoing investigations in Greece into allegations of wrongdoing by former Laiki Bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos, and such investigations in Cyprus have no point, the embattled financier said on Wednesday.

In a statement, Vgenopoulos commented on an announcement by the Legal Service on Tuesday night, which said it would ask to be officially briefed on the outcome of any investigation on the matter by Greek authorities, after the Greek investor, whom many hold responsible for Laiki’s demise in 2013, cited the findings of a probe by Greek investigators, claiming they exonerated him once and for all.

“The Legal Service and the justice ministry have asked to be informed in detail by Greek authorities with regard to the outcome of any investigations into cases relating to Laiki Bank,” the attorney-general’s office announced on Tuesday.

“Subsequently, and in light of such briefing, they will make all necessary representations to the Greek authorities, as may be required, to avoid influencing of the ongoing investigations in Cyprus and Greece, which are proceeding as normal.”

The announcement prompted Vgenopoulos’ furious reaction. He claimed the Legal Service was feigning ignorance over the investigations in Greece, since “not only was it aware of the criminal investigations relating to various matter concerning Laiki, but had also participated in a number of meetings with Greek investigators”.

“Since 2014, the Legal Service accepted the Greek judicial system’s jurisdiction over alleged offences supposedly committed by Greeks in Greece,” Vgenopoulos claimed, suggesting that Cypriot investigators had thus no jurisdiction over the allegations.

“In light of this, the Legal Service’s announcement only serves to gradually prepare Cypriot public opinion for the revelation that it has no jurisdiction over the Greeks, which it should have had the courage to explain from the beginning. With regard to the ‘representations’ it will make to the ‘Greek authorities’, good luck to them, but to spare them the effort, I inform them that they can forget about the ‘ongoing investigations’ in Greece. Of course, they have every right to continue with them in Cyprus, even as they have no point.”

But whatever they choose to do, the Greek financier added, the Cypriot people will one day see the truth – that he was “targeted unfairly in order to protect the true culprits of the destruction of Laiki and the Cypriot economy”.

“In order to protect all these people, Mr Ionas Nicolaou has also been sacrificed – the only justice minister in the world, as far as I know, who constantly commits criminal offences and defies the rule of law,” Vgenopoulos said.

This barb was aimed at the justice minister, who has repeatedly expressed hope that those responsible for the economic collapse in Cyprus will be punished, and gone as far as predicting that convictions can be expected within 2016.

On Tuesday, Nicolaou found himself in the spotlight, when a letter from the lawyers of defendants in a court case concerning the Bank of Cyprus, five former top officials of which have been accused of suppressing the bank’s true capital shortfall in 2012, said his public remarks violate their clients’ rights to a fair trial, forcing the justice minister to issue a public retraction.

In a statement of response, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said he would not follow Vgenopoulos in a “game of smoke and mirrors and misinformation”.

“The attorney-general has no intention of participating in a game of smoke and mirrors and misinformation attempted by some on the issue of investigations for the economy’s collapse, which merely reveals a lack of calm under pressure,” the short statement said.

“The Legal Service continues its work silently, taking all necessary measures to safeguard its smooth continuation.”

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