Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Greece to extradite suspect in banking corruption case

Greece’s supreme court on Friday upheld a Cypriot request for the extradition of ship owner Michalis Zolotas, wanted in connection with a corruption case involving the former governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus.

The 42-year-old was the owner of Focus Maritime Corporation, which paid €1mln to a company connected to Christodoulos Christodoulou, then governor of the Central Bank.

Focus is alleged to have been used as a slush fund to bribe state officials and political parties.

Zolotas is said to be linked to late businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos, widely held responsible for the collapse of the island’s banking sector in 2013.

He was detained in Greece whose judicial authorities initially approved extradition. The decision was appealed and the case went to the supreme court where it was upheld.

Cypriot prosecutors maintain that Zolotas’ Focus acted as a front for former Laiki Bank strongman Vgenopoulos, who bribed Christodoulou to look the other way while he irregularly acquired a controlling stake in the lender in 2006.

Also implicated in the case are Christodoulou’s daughter Athina and her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides, and Greek nationals Michalis Fole and Andreas Magiras.

Fole, detained in Romania on an international arrest warrant, is currently in custody in Cyprus.

Magiras is still free due to a recommendation by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which was adjudicating on a case filed by Vgenopoulos.

Vgenopoulos and his investment firm MIG, along with a group of Greeks who had invested in Laiki, filed a case against Cyprus with the ICSID, claiming the government, which had taken over control of the bank after it was bailed out in May 2012, was solely responsible for its eventual demise.

The ICSID had recommended waiting for the case before it to finish before issuing arrest warrants for Vgenopoulos and Magiras.

Vgenopoulos died of heart failure in Athens early in November.

 

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