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Cyprus
May 20, 2019
Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Kyproulla: where sadly, justice has perfect vision

Prez Nik might oppose a two-tier health system in Kyproulla but he is didn’t seem opposed to the idea when he was admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, New York in late 2014, to have his own mitral valve repaired, and he had a visit during recouperation from then US VP Joe Biden

WHEN a few weeks ago, lawyer Nicos Clerides, the brother of the attorney general, wrote in social media that “our courts are controlled by the Chrysafinis and Polyviou (C&P) law office,” and that “there is no judge of Supreme Court that does not have offspring at the law office that promotes interests of the banks,” our establishment dismissed this claim as a sweeping generalisation.

It has now been shown that as far as sweeping generalisation goes, this was pretty accurate. In a letter written to the president of the Bar Association, who had asked Clerides to explain his claims, the AG’s bro did exactly that. He listed the judges by name and also explained their links with the C&P law office, which is run by big shot lawyer Polys Polyviou.

Clerides’ claim, it turned out, was not the ranting of some crazy lawyer with a personal grudge against Supreme Court judges, because his bro had lost all the cases he brought against the Bank of Cyprus and its executives. In his letter he backed his claim with facts that could lead someone to conclude that the Supreme Court had been twinned with C&P law office.

The super-smart Polys could argue that it is not his fault that the lawyer kids of judges want to work for Nicosia’s oldest law firm, established by his grandfather Chrysafinis. After all, he does not publish vacancy ads saying that ‘blood relations to a Supreme Court judge would be considered an advantage’.

This may be because such a venerable law firm does not need to advertise vacancies. The applicant’s father just gives Polys a call and if he happens to be a judge, it may enhance the offspring’s prospects of being hired. To be fair, I know at least one person employed at C&P whose father is not a judge.

 

THE CLERIDES letter noted the following: S.C. Judge Stelios Nathanael’s daughter and son-in law both lawyers at C&P; S.C. Judge L. Parparinos’ daughter a lawyer at C&P; retired S.C. Judge A. Kramvis’ son a lawyer at C&P and also married to Polys’ daughter; S.C. Judge M. Christodoulou is different as the son of his wife (a district court judge herself) is a lawyer at C&P; S.C. Judge M. Pamballis has no kid at C&P, but he was employed there for many years.

Other links are also brought up, like the fact that wife of S.C. Judge Liatsos was employed for decades as a lawyer at the law office of Christos Triantafyllides who is a cousin of Polys and also represented one of the Bank of Cyprus defendants in one of the cases brought by the AG. These are enough to give a general picture of what is going on.

Even more damning was the fact that many of these judges ruled in cases in which the Bank of Cyprus was the defendant and its defence attorney was Polys, none of them seeing the need to recuse themselves because of the glaring conflict of interest. Perhaps Polys had no objection to their involvement.

Clerides cited a civil case in which the B of C and its executives were in the dock and the judge declared the charge sheet null and void. A five-member appeal board, consisting of Nathanael, Parparinos and Liatsos (the ex-employer of his wife was defending one of the bank executives) rejected the appeal against the decision filed by the AG.

I do not have the legal knowledge to express an informed opinion about the decision but what I can say with certainty is that Polys would not have sacked the judges’ kids if he lost the case.

 

THE BRO of the AG also mentioned the successful appeals against the sentences of the B of C and the bank’s former CEO Andreas Eliades for market manipulation. The appeal board was made up of three Supreme Court judges including its president Myron Nikolatos and Tefkros Economou, whose wife was an employee of the B of C. The third judge had no links either with C&P or the B of C.

With the vote at 1-1, Nikolatos, as chairman of the board, used his vote to overturn the sentences, using a rather dubious justification. The judges ruled the accused had no intention of manipulating the market in lying about the recapitalisation requirements of the bank, but accepted that their only motive for lying was to appease the angry shareholders at B of C AGM.

In short our learned judges ruled that you can tell lies to your shareholders about the state of a public company, as long as the intention is not to manipulate the market. I have never heard anything more stupid. Lying to shareholders is pretty blatant market manipulation regardless of the defendant’s intentions.

It gets worse. Three months before this decision Nikolatos’ sister, wrote Clerides, reached an out of court settlement with the B of C for a case she had brought against it as a bondholder. She had sued in 2013 for the losses she suffered by investing in the bank bonds which became worthless and was compensated in June 2018 in a settlement brokered by C&P.

 

MORAL outrage was sparked by Clerides’ letter and the Twiterrati were all going berserk about the justice system, but I will not repeat the scathing comments because the last thing our establishment needs right now is a libel suit from a judge or to face charges for defamatory comments against the Supreme Court.

In such an event the obvious thing to do would be to hire Polys as our defence attorney but we cannot afford his legal fees. The Coffeeshop is no bank.

I suspect Polys feels quite embarrassed by the all noise made about him, but he should cheer up. There could not have been a better advertisement for his law office, knowing how smart-ass Cypriot businessmen operate. Everyone that plans to file an appeal at the Supreme Court will now do it through C&P.

The most positive aspect of Clerides’ letter was that show that in Kyproulla justice not blind. The C&P law firm had helped restore its sight as well as giving work to its children.

 

EVER SINCE the interior ministry started working on plans to reform local government – reduce the absurdly high number of municipalities – we have been hearing a cacophony of pleas from an assortment of mayors telling us that their municipality should be spared.

Reports, a few days ago, that the ministry was planning on halving the number of municipalities from 30 to 15 through mergers did not go down well with the local government mob that knows this would mean a 50 per cent reduction in mayoral posts and council seats which pay party hacks to do nothing other than have discussions about garbage collection.

Yeroskipou’s burghers saw their worst fears being realised as their authority will be merged with Paphos. Last month the municipality set up a campaign committee to fight against the nightmare of a merger and wrote to Prez Nik complaining there had been no dialogue, government deciding the reduction of municipalities in “an arbitrary and undemocratic way.”

Dialogue and democracy are what got us in the madhouse situation of having 30 municipalities, 28 of which are debt-ridden and bankrupt, and can just about pay the wages of their workers. If the government is determined to reduce the number it should stick to arbitrary and undemocratic methods, avoiding dialogue at all costs.

 

EDEK chief Dr Sizo also joined the debate, after meeting the mayor of Athienou last weekend. Dr Sizo said: “Both the party and I, mainly for national and historic reasons, will not accept for the municipality of Athienou to be merged with another municipality and lose its autonomy.”

I would really like to know what the national and historic reasons for preserving a village of animal farmers as a municipality are. Did it resist the coup, are its residents the true descendants of ancient Greeks or is its cow population represented at council meetings? It is a just another village that should never have been a municipality that deserves to be merged with Aradippou in an arbitrary and undemocratic way.

We also have to mention the Ayia Napa mayor Yiannis Karousos who has been passionately campaigning for preserving his municipality. The reason. Ayia Napa, he claims, has become a “brand” which must be protected. The Ayia Napa brand of overcrowded and noisy beaches, kitschy pubs, bad food, architectural monstrosities and pissed yobs raising hell is so powerful it will survive without a municipality to promote it.

The Athienou brand might find it a bit more difficult to survive without a municipality, despite its historical and national importance.

 

THE JUNE 1 start date for Gesy appears very optimistic after the decision of the Cyprus Medical Association (CyMA) to advise its members not to join. Prez Nik who had hoped to give us a universal healthcare system to win our love, once he decided he was not going to give us a settlement of Cyprob, has messed this up big-time.

He tried to act as mediator meeting the CyMA leadership twice last week but was as intransigent as a Turk on the issue of private practice. Doctors that joined Gesy could not practise privately he said because this would create a two-tier healthcare system. He was not opposed to the two-tier healthcare system when he went to the US for a heart operation that could have been performed in Kyproulla, but we are not examining politician’s hypocrisy because that is a given.

Having alienated the doctors with his Akelite-style, dogmatic opposition to private practice, there is a big likelihood Gesy will not have enough doctors to cover the needs of patients. And there will be a need for a lot of doctors because when health care is free there will be people visiting a doctor three times a week.

 

WITH the government’s shoddy plans now in disarray Nik’s Plan B will be activated. This is based on doctors showing good will and signing for Gesy. The Prez said he is certain the doctors will show a sense of responsibility and sign up. But which doctors will sign up?

The mediocre ones that did not have very successful practices and hope they will get more patients by joining the scheme, while the sought-after doctors will stay out of it and carry on tax evading. Would this not be a two-tier system? People with money will pay and get better quality healthcare.

Meanwhile that other self-righteous do-gooder Giorgos Perdikis, appearing on a TV show, urged doctors to make a sacrifice for the public good. What sacrifice has Perdikis and his fellow politicians ever made for the public good to demand it from doctors? If there is one, I will be happy to print it in the next issue.

 

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