Warrants for the arrest of former Laiki Bank boss Andreas Vgenopoulos and three of his associates may not be issued until the conclusion of a case brought by a group of Greek investors against the Republic of Cyprus over responsibility in the collapse of the lender in 2013, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has ruled.
Vgenopoulos and his investment firm MIG, along with a group of Greeks who had invested in Laiki, filed a case with the ICSID against Cyprus, claiming its government, which had taken over control of the bank after it was bailed out with taxpayer money in May 2012, is solely responsible for its eventual demise, and seek redress of their total investment – totaling over €1.2 billion. They argue that the Cypriot government violated a 1992 treaty between Cyprus and Greece, in which they pledged to protect investments made by each other’s nationals.
Following their request last May, the court said arresting Vgenopoulos or any one of his associates Efthimios Bouloutas, Marcos Foros – for whom arrest warrants have already been issued – Panayiotis Kounnis, or Kyriacos Magiras, all of whom are considered key witnesses in the ongoing arbitration, would interfere with proceedings.
It therefore ordered the Republic of Cyprus to refrain from seeking their arrest, and suspending the warrants already issued until the case’s conclusion – expected in January 2017.
“In its 81-page ruling, the Court denied all other requests by the plaintiffs and looked only at the issue of the two pending criminal cases [against Bouloutas and Foros],” Cyprus’ Legal Service said in a statement.
“After rejecting the request for the suspension of pending criminal cases, […] it ruled that Messrs Bouloutas and Foros’ involvement and participation in the arbitration proceedings could be substantially impacted by their possible arrest, while their availability and presence in the arbitration proceedings is deemed essential.”
But the suspension ordered by the court is temporary, until the case has been concluded, the Legal Service added.
“It is further clarified that the above ruling, which is binding to the Republic, does not constitute an obstacle in the continuation of all pending criminal cases, or even the filing of new cases relating to the plaintiffs,” it said.
Prior to ruling on this point, the tribunal heard Vgenopoulos – representing the plaintiffs – and attorney-general Costas Clerides – representing the Republic of Cyprus – last August.