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Defence calls for leniency in sentencing of guilty Laiki four

Managing director of former Laiki Efthimios Bouloutas

Four former executives of the now defunct Laiki Bank who were found guilty last week of market manipulation will be sentenced on November 2, the criminal court announced on Wednesday.

Managing director Efthimios Bouloutas, deputy managing director Panayiotis Kounnis, vice-president Neoclis Lysandrou, and executive board member Marcos Foros, were found guilty on two charges of market manipulation and submitting false or misleading information with regard to publishing an interim consolidated financial statement in November 2011, in which they omitted to include a goodwill write-down of €330m for Marfin Popular Bank’s – as Laiki was then known – operations in Greece.

The four pleaded for leniency on Wednesday, with their defence asking the court to impose a fine or if a custodial sentence to ensure it was suspended.

The defence also suggested sentencing the four on one of the charges only since they overlapped and there was a chance of them being punished twice for the same offence.

The Nicosia criminal court heard that out of the entire board, prosecutors opted to bring only the four defendants before justice to be made scapegoats.

The defence asked the court to take this under serious consideration when sentencing, thus showing prosecutors that the court’s displeasure over their behaviour.

Laiki was wound down in March 2013 as part of the island’s bailout agreement.

In its guilty verdict last week, the court said failure to include the writedown of goodwill in the bank’s financial statements could not be attributed to carelessness or a mistake, or an omission in good faith, but a wholly conscious, deliberate action in which all the defendants took part.

In its 182-page unanimous decision, the three-member criminal court decided that both charges had been proven against all defendants.

“It has become clear that each defendant’s sole pursuit was not to include the writedown in the financial statements and with direct and pointed diligence, to conceal the existence of such loss,” the court said.

The court said the defendants chose to approve the statements without the writedown while knowing the sensitivity of the matter and the disagreement of the external auditors.

“Approval of the financial statements in question … was not a spontaneous and hasty statement but a well-thought and conscious decision on behalf of the defendants who knew all the information and were dealing with the issue for some time.”

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