By Evie Andreou
Former Central Bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou who is a defendant in the Focus corruption case is expected to file a request to Nicosia Criminal Court to be given time to find another counsel as his lawyer, Savvas Angelides, resigned after assuming duties as the new defence minister.
Christodoulou is to file a request next week to the court. During Wednesday’s hearing, when Christodoulou’s intention was made known, the court said that Angelides’ appointment as minister had been announced several days ago and the defendant had time to seek a new lawyer. It said that it would decide however, if and when Christodoulou’s request is officially filed.
This development is expected to further delay the hearing of the case, which is still at the stage of pre-trial appeals from the defence, as Christodoulou’s new lawyer is expected to ask for time to study the material so far.
Christodoulou did five months in jail in 2014 for failing to pay taxes on a €1m payment made from Greek company Focus Maritime Corp to Α. C. Christodoulou Consultants Ltd – a consulting firm technically owned by Christodoulou’s daughter. A.C Christodoulou Consultants Ltd had also been found complicit and was fined €13,500.
The current case is based on the suspicion that a €1m transfer from Focus, owned by Greek businessman Michalis Zolotas, to the consulting firm was actually made on behalf of former Laiki Bank boss, the late Andreas Vgenopoulos in exchange for the former governor’s collusion during the Greek financier’s 2006 takeover of Laiki. The lender closed down in 2013.
Angelides had tried to have Christodoulou and the consulting firm Α. C. Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, which he was also representing, acquitted on the grounds they should not be tried twice for the same events.
He had argued that, as his clients have already been tried for the same case and been found guilty, the attorney-general’s decision to prosecute them again on different charges represented a miscarriage of justice.
Defendants in the same case are Christodoulou’s daughter Athina, her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides, Zolotas, former Laiki official Michael Fole, and companies Marfin Investment Group (MIG), and Focus Maritime Corp.