Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Laiki suspects fail to turn themselves in to Greek authorities

HQ of what was Laiki Bank

Two former Greek bankers have failed to turn themselves in to Greek authorities in order that they be extradited to Cyprus where they face charges of mismanagement at now-defunct Laiki Bank.

On April 15, Greece’s highest court ordered the extradition to Cyprus of former Laiki Bank board members Efthymios Bouloutas and Markos Foros, whose arrest was sought after they had failed to appear before a Cypriot court.

Three days later, via a statement issued by their attorneys in Greece, Bouloutas and Foros promised to turn themselves in to Greek authorities on May 9 in order that they appear before a Cypriot court on May 11.

But reports from Greece said that neither Bouloutas nor Foros turned up.

May 11 was the date set for referring Bouloutas, Foros – and two others – to a criminal trial here.

Greek judicial authorities had decided to extradite the pair in March, but the decision was appealed.

Cypriot authorities issued European arrest warrants for Bouloutas and Foros in February, after they failed to appear before court at the inaugural hearing of the case.

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

Speaking on condition of anonymity, law enforcement sources did not hide their frustration with Greek authorities’ handling of the extradition of Bouloutas and Foros.

The sources told the Cyprus Mail that for the time being there is nothing more Cypriot authorities can do.

“But if this drags on, and they [Bouloutas and Foros] continue to be a no-show, we will consider other moves, such as issuing a judicial demarche to Greece,” they said.

The same sources said the two men should have been arrested in Greece on the spot on the same day the country’s highest court ordered their extradition to Cyprus.

However this was not done because neither Bouloutas nor Foros were present at the court proceedings on April 18; instead they were represented in court by their respective lawyers.

Under Greek law, they had the right not to be physically present at those proceedings.

In addition, it’s understood that following the extradition decision, no restrictions were imposed on the two other than their being barred from leaving Greece.

The four defendants face charges of market manipulation, conspiracy to defraud, presenting false information/keeping false accounts, and concealing the decline in Laiki’s net fair value.

The charges relate to the reporting of Laiki’s accounts for the third quarter of 2011.

Laiki faced serious undercapitalisation issues and had to be bailed out with €1.8bn 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.

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