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Cyprus

Defence says prosecution arguments fall short in BoC case

THE evidence heard in court falls well short of demonstrating that the five former Bank of Cyprus (BoC) senior officers conspired to defraud investors by concealing the lender’s true capital needs in 2012, the defendants’ lawyers posited on Thursday during their closing arguments in the ongoing trial.

Attorney Demetris Araouzos, representing defendants Theodoros Aristodemou (former board chairman) and Andreas Artemi (former vice chairman) argued that the state prosecution failed to demonstrate that the bank’s share price had been affected, and therefore market manipulation cannot be proven.

On June 27 2012 BoC’s share was listed at €0.266, on June 28 at €0.259, and on June 29 at €0.285, he noted.

Defence lawyer Chris Triantafyllides, representing Artemi and Yiannis Pehlivanides (former first deputy CEO), said that during the course of the trial not one shred of evidence, whether direct or circumstantial, was presented showing that the defendants had conspired to defraud investors.

The prosecution, said Triantafyllides, focused on the time period between June 14 and June 19, 2012. On June 14, he said, a preparatory meeting did take place in Aristodemou’s office. However, Pehlivanides was absent – he was in Greece at the time – while Artemi was attending another meeting elsewhere.

The attorney pointed out also what he described as disagreements between the testimonies of five prosecution witnesses and Alkis Pierides, a Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) official who was also brought on to testify against the defendants.

Triantafyllides singled Pierides out as the only witness in the trial who had a motive “to vindicate himself” since he was the same person who had earlier conducted a market manipulation probe for CySEC.

In his own testimony, Pierides said the bank had estimated its total capital needs for 2011 at €426 million, despite a “damning letter” from the Central Bank of Cyprus, dated May 10,  2012, which cited two earlier letters, and told the BoC top brass “Gentlemen, you need to raise your provisions.”

Another prosecution witness told the court that in a letter to the Central Bank, dated June 20, 2012 – i.e. one day after an Annual General Meeting of BoC’s shareholders – the bank raised its capital needs to approximately €400 million.

Also on trial are former CEO Andreas Eliades, his successor Yiannis Kypri, and the

Bank itself.

The Nicosia criminal court reconvenes on April 11 to hear the prosecution’s closing arguments.

 

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