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Co-op defendants plead not guilty to 183 charges

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The nine defendants in two cases of fraudulent loans secured from the Ayia Fyla co-operative bank on Thursday pleaded not guilty to a total 183 charges.

The first case relates to nine loans for a total €4.5 million, and the second 11 loans worth €1.96 million. All had been issued without sufficient collateral, through an alleged conspiracy by businessmen and co-op officials.

In court on Thursday, the defence lawyer of one of the accused businessmen asked for a postponement of the hearing, pending his appeal with the Supreme Court, in which he asked for €12 million in damages as redress for the violation of his constitutional rights in connection with the case.

The court denied the request, noting that the appeal should not affect the defendant’s plea to the charges facing him.

State prosecutors asked the court to allocate sufficient time before scheduling the hearing dates, on the one hand due to the bulk of documentation and evidence relating to the case, and on the other so that the two sides can agree on mutually accepted facts, which would help shorten the trial.

The criminal court scheduled the first case to be heard on January 16, 2017, and the second on February 15, 2017.

The defendants were released under terms.

Separate proceedings were brought in a third case, with the criminal court awaiting instructions by the attorney-general on whether this one will be tried by the district court.

Eight defendants in the third case – a 60-year-old businessman, five co-op officials, the bank’s former secretary, and its loans manager – are facing charges relating to nine loans worth €4.5 million, which delays and interest brought to €8.8 million.

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