Cypriot police have issued international arrest warrants for Efthymios Bouloutas and Markos Foros, two former bankers with now-defunct Laiki Bank, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou revealed on Thursday.
The arrest warrants have been filed with Interpol, the international police agency, Nicolaou told the state broadcaster.
The two Greek nationals were already being sought on the strength of European arrest warrants
after they failed to appear before a Cypriot court in February in the inaugural hearing of the case where they face charges of mismanagement at Laiki Bank.
But Nicolaou said international arrest warrants have additionally been issued as a precaution in case the two fugitives were to flee outside the European Union.
Earlier this week, Bouloutas and Foros did not show up in a Nicosia court despite a decision by judicial authorities in Greece to extradite them to Cyprus.
The case was adjourned for June.
On April 15, Greece’s highest court ordered the extradition to Cyprus of Bouloutas and 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 this Wednesday that they eventually decided it was unnecessary in a bid to safeguard other ongoing legal procedures relating to the failed lender.
Bouloutas and Foros are accused of having conspired to mislead investors through public statements and inaccurate account reporting in 2011.
They 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.
Bouloutas and Foros sat on Laiki’s board at the time in question. They currently hold senior positions at Marfin Investment Group (MIG), the group that took over management of Laiki in 2006.
Also on Wednesday, during a press conference in Athens, MIG boss Andreas Vgenopoulos railed against Greek justice, suggesting it was blindly serving Cyprus’ interests in the “unprecedented and bad faith actions” against MIG and its members.
Vgenopoulos, whom Cypriot authorities also want to question in connection to his role while he ran Laiki, even urged Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to prevent the extradition of MIG officials to Cyprus.
Commenting on the Greek financier’s outburst, the justice minister surmised that Vgenopoulos was panicking, as “investigations [into the 2013 collapse of the Cypriot financial sector] are proceeding and the noose is tightening.”
Vgenopoulos allegations, where he suggested that members of Tsipras’ government were acting against Greece’s interests by aiding in the extradition of Greek nationals, drew a response from the government spokesman here.
Commentators speculated that the banker was trying to drive a wedge between the governments of Greece and Cyprus.
“Relations between Cyprus and Greece continue to be excellent,” Nicos Christodoulides said.