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Andreas Vgenopoulos dies, cases against him to continue (updated)

Andreas Vgenopoulos, the Greek entrepreneur considered responsible for the demise of failed lender Cyprus Popular Bank (or Laiki), died on Saturday in Athens.

Vgenopoulos died due to heart failure in a clinic in Athens, state radio CyBC reported on Saturday. In a brief statement, Hygeia hospital in Athens – owned by Vgenopoulos’ investment vehicle, MIG – announced the news.

MIG’s board also issued a statement, expressing deep sorrow for the death of the group’s founder.

It added that Vgenopoulos was born in 1953 in Athens, studied law at Athens University and went on to found Vgenopoulos & Partners law firm.

Since 1998, MIG said, he entered the investment and banking arena, creating one of the biggest business groups in Greece.

Under Vgenopoulos’ leadership, MIG grew to become an international investment firm, with presence in the region of south-eastern Europe. Among other market leaders, the group owns dairy producer Vivartia, shipping Attica Group, and information-technology company Singular Logic.

Over the last few years, the group suffered losses of millions of euros.

Vgenopoulos first made headlines in Cyprus in 2006, when MIG bought out HSBC’s stake in Laiki.

In 2011, the thriving bank suffered a crippling blow from the haircut of privately-held Greek debt, and was recapitalised – and nationalised – with €1.8 billion of the Cypriot taxpayer’s money.

A little over a year later, the bank collapsed and Vgenopoulos led a group of Greek businessmen who had invested in Laiki to file a compensation claim in international courts against the Republic of Cyprus for a total of €1.2 billion.

In Cyprus, he has been charged by the attorney-general’s office for market manipulation, as well as having bribed former Central Bank of Cyprus governor Christodoulos Christodoulou with €1 million in 2007.

In his youth, Vgenopoulos was also a distinguished fencer, having won Greek championships and competing internationally, and was a member of the Greek team in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The funeral service, it was announced, will be private, for family members only.

As head of now-defunct Laiki Bank, once Cyprus’ second-largest lender, Vgenopoulos has been widely considered one of the key players in the events that led to the 2013 banking crisis in Cyprus, to the point where the state of Cyprus had launched court cases against him.

Attorney general Costas Clerides on Saturday told the Cyprus News Agency that, although he respects the man’s death, investigations into cases implicating him will continue as normal.

“As will happen to pending cases, after the necessary adjustments are made, if required,” he said.

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