Cyprus Mail

Economy colIapse investigators travel to Athens (updated)

Police officers who are part of the team investigating the economic collapse, were expected to travel to Greece on Wednesday as part of a probe into the funding of two political parties by a company thought to be linked to former Laiki strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos, Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Wednesday.

Clerides said the officers were travelling to Athens in connection with Focus Maritime Corporation, a company belonging to Greek shipowner Michalis Zolotas, which gave ruling DISY €600,000 and appears to have funded AKEL with around €880,000.

The funds appeared to have been used by the two biggest parties to fly in voters ahead of the 2008 presidential elections.

Clerides said the officers had also travelled to Greece last week for the same matter.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Cyprus News Agency reported that the officers were off to Greece in connection with a case involving Laiki bank.

Rumours of money funnelled to the two parties by Focus – with the implication that Vgenopoulos was behind the donations to secure favourable treatment from the political establishment – have been circulating since December 2013.

Vgenopoulos is widely held responsible for the collapse of the island’s banking system.

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

Management of the lender was taken over by Marfin Investment Group (MIG) founder and boss Andreas Vgenopoulos in 2006.

He 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.

Focus also paid former Governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus Christodoulos Christodoulou €1 million in July 2007 – two months after he had stepped down as Governor.

Christodoulou justified the payment as “consultancy services for 10 years, paid in advance” and clarified that the account the funds were paid into was not his own but belonged to a company run by his daughter.

Christodoulou was sentenced to five months in jail in 2014 for failing to pay taxes on the amount received from Focus.



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