By Stelios Orphanides
Attorney-general Costas Clerides said that an arbitration court ruled that Cyprus had not violated any of its obligations stipulated in a mutual investment protection agreement with Greece, the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported on Friday.
With its decision, the International Court of Arbitration also dismissed claims for compensation totalling almost €1.1bn filed by former Laiki Bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos who died in 2016, Greece’s MIG Group and 19 other investors, Clerides said according to CNA.
The court also ordered the plaintiffs to pay Cyprus €5m for expenses, he said.
Clerides who has been criticised in the past by media, including the daily newspaper Politis, for squandering public funds in hiring foreign legal experts to assist in matters related to the collapse of the economy more than five years ago, appeared vindicated for doing so as the Law Service was successful in defending Cyprus’ interests in the case against MIG.
“I repeatedly, in certain cases, and I have to say maliciously so, that tens of millions of euros have been spent by the Republic via the Law Service, and they also make reference to a €40m amount on criminal investigations about the economy and that the results were zero,” he said. “There’s nothing more untrue than this”.
“Yes, we did spend some millions (of euros) to defend the Republic,” the former judge continued. “With our success today, we reclaimed”.
“That maliciousness should therefore stop,” he said adding “unless they want to leave the Republic without the best possible defence so that we risk paying some millions or billions of euros”.
“Sadly, some will be disappointed not to find today an excuse to attack the attorney-general anew,” he concluded.
Vgenopoulos is widely considered responsible for the demise of Laiki, as the Cyprus Popular Bank was widely known. He steered the bank in 2006 to 2011 and in 2012 the government recapitalised it with €1.8bn. This did not prevent it from going out of business the following year. After its depositors lost all their savings in excess of €100,000, Bank of Cyprus took over Laiki’s operations in 2013 in what became the most dramatic episode of Cyprus’s twin fiscal and banking crisis.
A trial at the Nicosia Criminal Court against three Laiki former executives and one board member, which was believed to be close to the issue of a verdict last month, took a surprising new twist on Tuesday when the court said that it had to resolve a request submitted by the defendants who argued they could benefit from a lighter penalty following a change in the law after the events in question.