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Cyprus

Focus trial defendants ask for more time

Archive photo Christodoulou (L) chatting with Vgenopoulos (R)

The defendants in a trial over a €1mln payment to former Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou, allegedly in exchange for his collusion during the takeover of Laiki Bank in 2006, said they were not ready to answer the charges on Tuesday and were given until June to prepare.

The defence asked the Nicosia Criminal Court for more time to study the hefty case file before answering the charges, which include corruption and money laundering.

The prosecution did not object and the court adjourned for June 8 at 9am.

Apart from Christodoulou, the charge sheet includes Greek shipowner Michalis Zolotas, Christodoulou’s daughter Athina, her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides, former Laiki official Michael Fole, and companies A. C. Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, Marfin Investment Group (MIG), and Focus Maritime Corp.

The defendants face a total of 29 charges including corruption, bribery, abuse of authority, abuse of trust, and money laundering.

Zolotas faces a single count relating to money laundering.

The case is based on the suspicion that a €1mln transfer from Zolotas’ Focus to Christodoulou’s consulting firm (technically owned by his daughter) was actually made on behalf of former Laiki strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos in exchange for the former governor’s collusion during the Greek financier’s 2006 takeover of Laiki.

Laiki closed down in 2013.

Vgenopoulos, widely considered as the protagonist in the collapse of the island’s banking system in 2013, died in November 2016.

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