Cyprus Mail

Vgenopoulos defends bankers’ no-show in court (Updated)

Greek authorities finally approved a request by Cypriot investigators to question Andreas Vgenopoulos

Two former Greek bankers failed to appear before a court on Wednesday despite a decision by judicial authorities in Greece to extradite them to Cyprus where they face charges of mismanagement at the now-defunct Laiki Bank.

The case was adjourned for June.
“We expect that they will use every means, judicial or political, but we will tackle it,” Attorney General Costas Clerides said after the adjournment.

On April 15, Greece’s highest court ordered the extradition to Cyprus of former Laiki Bank board members Efthymios Bouloutas and Markos Foros, whose arrests were 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 to appear before a Cypriot court on May 11.
But the pair failed to do so, saying on Wednesday that they eventually decided it was unnecessary in a bid to safeguard other ongoing legal procedures relating to the failed lender.

Through their lawyers, the defendants asked the court to review its decision that their physical presence was necessary and to allow them to be represented by their lawyer.

Prosecutor Elli Papagapiou said the pair were being sought by Greek authorities, describing the no-show as a mockery of judicial proceedings.

“We are in constant contact with the (Greek) authorities,” she said.
District court judge Sophia Hadjikyriakou gave the authorities until June 23 to find and execute the arrest warrants against the two men.

She made it clear to their lawyers that she was not changing her decision.
“I think Mr (Andreas) Haviaras knows well that the court will not reverse its previous decision,” she said.

Cypriot authorities issued European arrest warrants for Bouloutas and Foros in February, after they failed to appear before court in 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 on Wednesday.

The four are accused of having conspired to mislead investors through public statements and inaccurate account reporting in 2011.
The 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.
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. Since the bank’s failure he has labelled them as “the Greeks”, arguing that the local political and banking establishment had always cast a suspicious eye on them.

On Wednesday, Vgenopoulos suggested Greek justice was blindly serving Cyprus’ interests in the “unprecedented and bad faith actions” against MIG and its members.
The former Laiki strongman claimed that MIG members were being prosecuted by Cyprus for non-existent stock market violations.

In a news conference in Athens, Vgenopoulos said he has filed a law suit against the head of Greece’s high court and others, in connection with alleged illegal actions linked to Bouloutas’ and Foros’ extradition procedures.

He also urged the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to prevent the extradition of MIG officials to Cyprus.

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