Cyprus Mail

Bank thief to stand trial

A man accused of stealing cash and valuables from safety deposit boxes at two banks will stand trial on September 14.

The accused, 38-year-old Marios Loizou from Larnaca, faces charges of stealing €361,000 in cash and jewelry worth €9,500 from safety deposit boxes from a Bank of Cyprus branch.

He is also charged with the theft of €128,00 in cash and jewelry worth €2,000 from a Larnaca branch of the Co-op bank.

The offences took place between March 1, 2015 and January 22, 2016.

Loizou, an unemployed sign maker, also faces the charge of using funds that were illicitly obtained (money laundering).

This will be the second trial for the same case, after the first trial was dismissed by the court in early June.

Prosecutors had to file new charges.

During the first trial, prosecutors had charged Loizou and his wife Sotira Georgiou only with the charge of money laundering, not the actual theft.

During the course of that trial, the criminal court found that the money laundering charge lacked specificity and did not reveal a criminal offence.

The couple had been charged with acquiring property when they knew or should have known that this constituted the proceeds of committing a predicate offence, a crime that is a component of a more serious offence.

In its decision, the court said the question was whether the predicate offence should be defined in the details of the offence, considering that the prosecution had chosen to file a money laundering charge only without the corresponding charge on the predicate offence – in this case, the act of theft.

According to the law, an essential element of money laundering is that the proceeds should come from the commission of a predicate offence, the court said.

The court said it was not enough for a charge to refer to a predicate offence in a general and vague manner.

Among the items and services allegedly secured by Loizou and his wife were two cars worth €10,000 and €28,000, a motorcycle worth €12,000, a collection of alcoholic drinks valued at €14,600, jewelry valued at €15,600 and a house renovation that cost €10,000.

Police said the break-ins and thefts were carried out by a person who had access to the area when the branches were open.

Loizou was the only individual from the list of customers who had a box at both branches.

There were no security cameras at the time in the rooms where the safety deposits were stored and customers were left alone while accessing their boxes.

His visits to the banks coincided with the period the thefts took place, police said.

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