Cyprus Mail

Noose tightens in Vgenopoulos case

Andreas Vgenopoulos (right)

DISGRACED former Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou was Friday charged with new offences stemming from a one-million-euro upfront fee for ten years’ advisory services paid into the account of his daughter’s consultancy company by Greek ship owner Michalis Zolotas, a close business associate of former Laiki bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos who is also due to be charged.

Investigations leading to the charges focused on whether Zolotas’ company had bribed Christodoulou to facilitate the Vgenopoulos takeover of Laiki through purchases of shares in a shareholder company. Christodoulou as Central Banker reportedly approved the share purchase by companies associated with Vgenopoulos.

After being summoned for questioning he was charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, corruption, money laundering, abuse of power and bribing a public official.

Christodoulou was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment and fined €13,500 in September 2014 after admitting to six counts of tax evasion relating to the undeclared €1 million cash transfer from the Greek ship-owner in 2007.

Christodoulou’s daughter Athina and her former husband, Andreas Kizourides, who were also called in for questioning Friday were also initially accused 2014 but acquitted after the former CBC governor’s guilty plea. Reports indicate that they were also charged, denying their guilt as did Christodoulou.

According to information, the new case should be registered before Nicosia District Court within days, and will be the first case in which Vgenopoulos will stand accused testing whether the issue of his extradition to Cyprus will become feasible.

The authorities are well aware that Vgenopoulos will legally battle to prevent his extradition and meetings were held to counter steps he may take to prevent both his possible arrest and extradition.

Co-defendants in the case will include Zolotas of Focus Maritime Corporation and close associates of Vgenopoulos.

Speaking to the media after admitting to the tax evasion charges in September 2014, Christodoulou said he had been vindicated by the fact that charges had been dropped.

“I neither stole, nor was I bribed,” he said. “My conscience is clear; I did my duty. I was honest and I have given this country more than I have taken.”

He said the whole affair was a smear campaign and half the island should have been charged with the same offences.

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