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Zolotas to be tried along with others in Focus case

Shipowner Michalis Zolotas

In an interim ruling on Thursday the Nicosia criminal court said Greek businessman Michalis Zolotas would be tried along with the other defendants in the case involving the alleged bribery of the former head of the Central Bank.

Zolotas’ lawyers had earlier filed a motion for their client to be tried separately from the rest of the defendants, arguing that, unlike the other accused, Zolotas faces only a single charge – that of money laundering.

They had also filed a motion that Zolotas’ name should be removed from the text of the charge sheet detailing the charges faced by the other defendants.

The court rejected both motions, finding that Zolotas’ inclusion was integral to the case as a whole.

This, the court said, is because the whole case hinges on the transfer of €1m – the transfer itself not being disputed – made from Focus Maritime Corp, a company owned by Zolotas, to a consulting firm (AC Christodoulou Consultants Ltd) run by the daughter of Christodoulos Christodoulou, the former governor of the Central Bank.

Zolotas’ inclusion on the charge sheet does not impinge on the presumption of innocence, the court noted.

The case is based on the suspicion that the €1m transfer from Focus to the consulting firm was actually made on behalf of former Laiki Bank boss Andreas Vgenopoulos in exchange for Christodoulou’s collusion during the Greek financier’s 2006 takeover of Laiki.

The other defendants – Christodoulou, his daughter Athena Christodolou and her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides, former Laiki official Michael Fole, and companies Focus Maritime Corp, AC Christodoulou Consultants Ltd and Marfin Investment Group (MIG) – face charges including corruption of a public official and abuse of power.

Also on Thursday the court accepted a motion by the prosecution to amend the charge sheet. Zolotas will be now facing two counts of money laundering, from one count previously.

The amended charge sheet is to be filed in court on January 18.



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