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AG’s brother ‘must substantiate claim that supreme court controlled by law firm’

The supreme court in Nicosia

By George Psyllides

THE brother of the attorney-general must substantiate accusations that the supreme court was controlled by a prominent law firm or else withdraw his comments, Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said on Wednesday.

The minister was commenting on allegations made by Nicos Clerides last week following the acquittal of two former bank executives by the criminal court.

Clerides was responding to comments made by another lawyer on Facebook about the adequacy of his brother.

“Our courts are controlled by the Polyviou and Chrysafinis law firm. There is no supreme court judge who does not have a child at the law office that promotes the banks’ interests,” Clerides wrote, of the firm, which represents Bank of Cyprus.

On Wednesday, Politis reported that the supreme court considered the comment defamatory and had written to the bar association seeking an explanation.

Nicolaou, a lawyer himself, told state radio that Clerides must substantiate his claims.

“If there is any evidence this should be presented,” he said, adding that everyone could be scrutinised.

“There are no sacred cows.”

If he does not present any evidence, Clerides must withdraw his comment, the minister said.

It appears there are at least four lawyers working at the law firm with links to the supreme court. One is Polyviou’s daughter Chloe who is married to Michael Kramvis, son of a former supreme court judge. Two other female lawyers are the daughters of two supreme court judges.

The court acquitted former Bank of Cyprus executives Andreas Eliades and Yiannis Kypris of charges relating to alleged market manipulation by falsifying the lender’s 2010 annual report.

The court decision followed a pretrial motion by the defence, which argued that the charges shared the same foundation as two previous cases regarding BoC in which the two executives had been acquitted.

In January, former CEO Eliades had been found guilty in the first case relating to events in the bank that almost caused its collapse in 2013.

He was given two and a half years in jail but the supreme court overturned the decision in September. Kypri and others were also charged in the case but they were acquitted.

Eliades and Kypri were also charged in a second case relating to the acquisition of Greek government bonds and their failure to inform shareholders of the risks of the investment.

They were acquitted following a supreme court decision, which argued that the charge sheet did not reveal a criminal offence.

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