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Case against four ex-Laiki officials referred to criminal court

Managing director of former Laiki Efthimios Bouloutas

 

The Nicosia district court on Monday referred four former Laiki bank Greek bankers to trial before the criminal court, where they face charges of mismanagement at the now defunct lender.

The referral was made possible due to the physical presence in court of Efthymios Bouloutas and Markos Foros, who up until now had failed to show up in court, forcing Cypriot authorities to issue warrants for their arrest.

Having earlier granted Cyprus’ request for their extradition, Greece’s supreme court ruled that Bouloutas and Foros are to face only two charges in this case: market manipulation and presenting false/misleading information. The charges of keeping false accounts and concealing the decline in Laiki’s net fair value have been dropped.

By contrast, the other two indictees – Panayiotis Kounnis and Kyriacos Magiras – will in addition to market manipulation and presenting false/misleading information, face the charges of conspiracy to defraud and keeping false accounts.

The charges relate to the reporting of Laiki’s accounts for the third quarter of 2011.

The inaugural hearing in the criminal trial has been set for January 17.

In mid-September, the Nicosia district court had suspended the execution of arrest warrants against Bouloutas and Foros for their having failed to appear before a Cypriot court in February in the inaugural hearing of the case.

The action followed the recommendation of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which was adjudicating on a case filed by the late former Laiki strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos, who died of a heart attack this November 5.

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, was solely responsible for its eventual demise.

Following their request last May, the court said arresting Vgenopoulos or any one of his associates, all of whom were 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.

However following a request filed by the attorney-general, the ICSID subsequently set aside its recommendation, effectively forcing Bouloutas and Foros to appear in a Cypriot court.

In referring the indictees to criminal trial, district court judge Sofia Hadjikyriacou ordered the voiding of the arrest warrants against Bouloutas and Foros.

Given that the warrants had been issued for the sole purpose of ensuring the two men’s referral to criminal trial, the warrants were now redundant, she said.

The district court also decided that all four indictees be released in the interim, but set conditions ensuring their future presence in court.

The four are to post a €200,000 bond each.

Bouloutas and Foros both sat on Laiki’s board at the time in question. They currently hold senior positions at Marfin Investment Group (MIG), the group that took over management of Laiki in 2006.

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