Cyprus Mail
Business

Firm advising over Co-op was previously used against Cyprus

Akel MP Irini Charalambidou

Akel MP Irini Charalambidou charged on Wednesday that the government had hired the very same international law firm that the late Greek financier Andreas Vgenopoulos had also engaged five years ago to sue Cyprus.

Charalambidou said the government had hired Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to advise on the Co-op bank-Hellenic deal without inviting bids.

The company in question had represented Marfin Investment Group belonging to Andreas Vgenopoulos who sued Cyprus for €1.05bn.

Vgenopoulos, who is widely considered responsible for the demise of the Cyprus Popular Bank, blamed the government for the collapse. He died in November 2016.

Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said the firm had been chosen because of work it did for Cyprus previously, during the tenure of former finance minister Vasos Sharly to advise on guarantees extended to Cyprus Airways.

The bank association also used the firm.

But Charalambidou took the issue up with the attorney-general, who replied that in similar cases his office used various firms it thought suitable and asked for proposals and declarations of possible conflict of interest.

The AG said the fact that Freshfields had taken up the case against Cyprus was deemed by the Legal Service as a reason not to be hired for other jobs.

However, according to the AG, the Vgenopoulos’ case against the Republic was later assumed by another firm, The Three Crowns, set up by three Freshfields senior members who had left.

The procedure before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes finished a few months ago and the decision has been reserved.

 

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