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Cyprus

Zolotas in Cyprus, due in court Friday

Nicosia court

Greek national Michalis Zolotas, who for months had eluded Cypriot authorities, was taken into custody on Thursday.

The businessman arrived on the island after Greece’s high court issued a final decision granting a request for his extradition to Cyprus, where he faces bribery charges along with other individuals.

Zolotas, 42, will appear before the Nicosia district court on Friday to enter a plea.

He is the owner of Focus Maritime Corporation, which paid €1m to a company connected to Christodoulos Christodoulou, then governor of the Central Bank.

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

In an earlier interim ruling, the Nicosia district court said all defendants must be physically present in court in order for the case to be referred to a criminal trial.

The court had set January 16, 2017 as the date for referring the case to a criminal court.

That will depend on whether Kyriacos Magiras, the last defendant evading justice, is taken into Cypriot custody by then.

But the noose is tightening, as according to reports the International Court of Arbitration has accepted a request from Cyprus’ attorney-general to issue an arrest warrant against Magiras.

Another defendant, Michalis Fole, was detained in Romania on an international arrest warrant, and is currently in custody in Cyprus.

Reports said Fole was set to be released until the next hearing on condition he posted a €200,000 bond.

Vgenopoulos died of heart failure in Athens early in November.

In addition to Christodoulou, Zolotas, Magiras and Fole, defendants in the same case are Christodoulou’s daughter Athena and her ex-husband Andreas Kizouridis.

Also indicted, as legal entities, are Α. C. Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, Marfin Invesment Group, and Focus Maritime.

The defendants face a range of charges, relating to corruption of public officials, bribery, abuse of power and abuse of trust, and money laundering.

 

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