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Zolotas to be extradited to Cyprus on Thursday

Greek national Michalis Zolotas, who is one of the defendants in the case of the alleged bribery of former Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou, is to be transferred on Thursday to Cyprus after the Greek authorities upheld a request for his extradition, it was reported on Wednesday.

Zolotas, 42, was the owner of Focus Maritime Corporation, which paid €1m to a company connected to 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 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.

Zolotas had surrendered to Greek authorities after a Nicosia court issued a warrant for his arrest in October.  A court in Athens had ordered Zolotas’ extradition but the decision was appealed and the Cypriot authorities had to wait for about a month for the decision of Greece’s high court.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, the International Court of Arbitration has accepted a request from Cyprus’ legal services to issue an arrest warrant against another defendant in the same case, Kyriacos Magiras, also a Greek national, to be present on January 16, the date on which the District Court of Nicosia will try again to refer the case directly to trial before the Criminal Court.

The Nicosia district court had not been successful so far in referring the trial to the criminal court due to the continuous refusal of the four defendants – Magiras, Zolotas, Vgenopoulos, and Michalis Fole – to be physically present at the case hearings in Cyprus. Vgenopoulos passed away in November.

Nicosia district court had issued arrest warrants against Zolotas and Fole, while for Vgenopoulos and associate Magiras, the court took into account an interim decision of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) which recommended waiting for another case before it to finish before issuing arrest warrants for the two.

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.

Fole, detained in Romania on an international arrest warrant, is currently in custody in Cyprus, while Vgenopoulos died of heart failure in Athens early in November.

Also implicated in the case are Christodoulou’s daughter Athina and her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides.

 

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