Cyprus Mail

Focus case postponed as defendants fail to show

Nicosia court

Court proceedings regarding a case related to the 2013 bank collapse were postponed on Thursday after two defendants failed to show up and the extradition procedure for two others was still in progress.

In the case, filed at the Nicosia district court, the prosecution maintains that a company, Focus Maritime, had acted as a front for former Laiki Bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos, who allegedly bribed former Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou with €1m to look the other way while he irregularly acquired a controlling stake in the lender in 2006.

Two of the defendants named in the indictment, Vgenopoulos and Kyriacos Magiras, failed to show up once more, despite the court deciding last month that their physical presence was necessary to complete the procedure of referring them to the Criminal Court for trial.

On Thursday, their lawyer argued that his clients were within their rights to be absent. He also told the court that Vgenopoulos and Magiras had filed an appeal with the Supreme Court to allow them to be represented by their lawyer without being them being present.

The appeal was filed on October 19 and the hearing was scheduled for Monday.

Attorney-general Costas Clerides argued that the defendants were disobeying the court’s interim decision ordering them to be present for the referral hearing. He added that the Supreme Court appeal could not suspend the decision.

Two other defendants, shipowner Michalis Zolotas, who appeared as Focus’ owner, and Michalis Fole, have been arrested by the Greek and Romanian authorities respectively, and were waiting for their extradition hearings, both on Tuesday.

In light of this, Clerides said, he had no objection for the case to be postponed.

Judge Marilena Miliotou decided not to issue arrest warrants for Vgenopoulos and Magiras, adjourning the hearing for the morning of December 1.

The three other defendants, Christodoulou, his daughter Athina, and her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides were present in court.

The defendants face 20 charges including corruption, bribery, abuse of authority, and money laundering.



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