The payment of €1mln to former central banker Christodoulos Christodoulou by Greek shipowner Michalis Zolotas in 2007, for which Christodoulou served five months in jail after confessing to tax evasion in 2014, appears to form the basis for a case the Cypriot Legal Service plans to launch against former Laiki Bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos, daily Politis reported on Tuesday.
In a marathon session on Monday, state prosecutors in charge of overseeing investigations into Cyprus’ economic collapse met with police investigators, in the presence of Greek private attorneys, to discuss the way forward.
According to the state broadcaster, discussion focused on the 2007 transaction, as investigators believe they have managed to establish a link between Vgenopoulos and Zolotas, which the former has vehemently denied.
Such a link could suggest that the €1mln was in fact, paid by Vgenopoulos to Christodoulou by proxy, presumably in exchange for the central banker turning a blind eye to irregularities in Vgenopoulos’ acquiring control of a strong minority stake in Laiki in 2006.
At Monday’s meeting, the case to be brought against Vgenopoulos – the first officially implicating the Greek businessman in the Cypriot banking meltdown – was finalised, and what remained was planning ahead for addressing his certain resistance to a possible extradition request against him by Cypriot authorities.
According to Politis, state prosecutors are concerned that Vgenopoulos is likely to employ stalling tactics similar to those of his associates Efthimios Bouloutas and Marcos Foros, who filed for various protective court orders to avoid extradition.
Bouloutas and Foros, whose extradition was eventually rubberstamped by Greek courts in April, have not yet arrived on the island as Greek authorities say they cannot find the two men.
Anticipating a similar reaction from Vgenopoulos in the eventuality of an extradition request against him, Cypriot authorities tried to plan their response in advance – hence the need for advice from Greek lawyers.
The charge sheet, the paper said, citing unnamed sources, includes bribery and corruption charges, and mainly focuses on the €1mln transaction to Christodoulou’s Athens-based consultancy.
In addition to Vgenopoulos and Christodoulou, the charge sheet will feature other individuals and companies.