The Nicosia criminal court on Monday dismissed all of the defence’s latest objections to the submission of certain evidentiary material in the Focus corruption case, allowing the start-stop trial to move forward again.
The court rejected one by one a series of objections raised by one of the defendants, Marfin Investment Group, who had argued that a digital storage device was obtained unlawfully by the prosecution and should thus not be admitted as evidence.
The material was obtained from UK authorities following a mutual judicial assistance request filed by Cypriot law enforcement.
It’s understood the device contains communications between some of the defendants.
The defence tried to argue that a UK court should have previously issued a warrant allowing for the privacy of communications to be lifted, before handing the material over to Cypriot authorities.
The court said this was not necessary, as UK authorities were merely conveying the material, not investigating.
Prosecutors claim that Focus Maritime Corp was the conduit for transferring €1m to a consultancy firm in Cyprus.
The consultancy firm was owned by the daughter of then governor of the Central Bank Christodoulos Christodoulou. The prosecution’s case rests on the premise that the money was a sweetener to Christodoulou so he would green-light the 2006 takeover of Laiki Bank by Greek financier Andreas Vgenopoulos, now deceased.
Laiki was shuttered in 2013.
Vgenopoulos, chairman of Marfin Investment Group (MIG), was initially also on the charge sheet. His name was withdrawn when he died in November 2016.
The defendants in the case are: Michalis Zolotas, owner of Focus Maritime Corp and a former associate of Vgenopoulos; Christodoulou; Christodoulou’s daughter Athina and her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides; former Laiki official Michael Fole; and Focus Maritime Corp, Marfin Investment Group and ΑC Christodoulou Consultants Ltd as legal entities.