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Cyprus

Former Laiki chairman ‘too frail’ to face charges

Defunct Laiki bank

Former chairman of now defunct Laiki bank Constantinos Mylonas was never prosecuted due to his old age, lead investigator Marcos Nicolettis told Nicosia criminal court on Wednesday as the trial into market manipulation by four of Laiki’s top brass continued.

Defendants in the trial are Laiki’s then-managing director Efthimios Bouloutas, his deputy Panayiotis Kounnis, non-executive vice-president Neoclis Lysandrou and executive board member Marcos Foros.

They are facing charges of market manipulation and submitting false or misleading information with regard to publishing an interim financial report in November 2011, in which they omitted to include a goodwill writedown of €330 million for Marfin Popular Bank’s – as Laiki was then known – operations in Greece.

Testifying as a prosecution witness, senior officer Nicolettis said Mylonas was “a proper and extremely polite elderly man” who was 85 years old when he gave statements to police in October 2015.

Painting a picture of a frail man, Nicolettis said the former chairman had accidentally spilled coffee over some documents while giving a statement and accidentally scratched his car as he was leaving the premises.

Nicolettis agreed with the defence counsel that due to the nature of the case, there was a need for specialist knowledge over accounting matters but said he lacked them.

He told court that based on all the witness material they had collected, there was no reason to call for more statements or prosecute other individuals, denying this was part of a ‘plan’ to avoid looking into what really happened during a meeting of the board on November 29 in 2011 so as to let former deputy CEO of laiki Christos Styliandes off the hook and use him as a prosecution witness.

Responding to questions put to him by the defence, Nicolettis said he did not follow a judicial route to obtain a statement from Bouloutas and Foros as when that procedure had been followed in another case concerning the two suspects, there was a huge delay in the investigation.

To that end, he spoke to them on the phone and the two sent their views in writing. A decision to prosecute them was taken without their statements, Nicolettis added.

Bouloutas was the number one suspect due to his position at the bank, the lead investigator told the court, denying police had not taken statements from the two because of a “pre-determined decision to charge them”.

The case will resume on January 29 and 30 at 9am.

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