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Cyprus

Suspect fails to show in central bank bribery trial

Former CBC governor Christodoulos Christodoulou

The Nicosia district court, hearing the case of the alleged bribery of a former Central Bank of Cyprus chief, has adjourned to January 16, on which date it will make another attempt at referring the accused to the criminal court for trial.

In an earlier interim decision, the district court had ruled that all of the accused must be physically present in the courtroom for the case to be referred to trial.

During the latest hearing on Thursday, Greek nationals Michalis Zolotas and Kyriacos Magiras again failed to show up in court.

Zolotas, currently in Greece, is fighting a Cypriot extradition request at Greece’s supreme court. His lawyer said Greece’s supreme court is set to examine the case on Friday and would be issuing its final decision within a few days.

The case involves a €1 million payout made to former central bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou by Focus Maritime, an offshore company held by Greek ship-owner Zolotas, who is considered to have been acting on behalf of the late Andreas Vgenopoulos, the Greek financier who controlled Laiki from 2006 to its nationalisation in 2012, months before it was wound down.

Also on Thursday the Nicosia district court ordered that another accused, Michalis Fole, be released from custody but that he remain in Cyprus until the next hearing.

Fole, former director at Laiki, was ordered to post a €200,000 bond for his release.

Fole, who was apprehended last month after Cypriot authorities secured a European warrant for his arrest in connection to the Focus case, has also been linked to suspect illicit transfers made on Vgenopoulos’ instructions.

Former central bank chief Christodoulou, his daughter Athina, and her former husband Andreas Kyzourides have also been charged along with the others, while the companies A.C. Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, Marfin Invesment Group – MIG (former Marfin Financial Group – MFG) and Focus Maritime Corp were charged as legal entities.

They face a total of 29 counts of offences pertaining to corruption, bribing public officials, misuse of power, abuse of trust by a public official and money laundering.

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