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Sparks fly in court between AG and prominent lawyer in BoC case

AG Costas Clerides

Attorney-general Costas Clerides exchanged angry words in court on Friday with prominent attorney Polys Polyviou whose law firm had been at the centre of allegations regarding links to the supreme court.

The two were appearing before the criminal court in the case against five bank executives over the handling of Greek government bonds that eventually caused the lender huge losses.

Two former executives, Andreas Eliades and Yiannis Kypri had been acquitted in the same case. The charges relate to market manipulation by falsifying the lender’s 2010 annual report.

The case continues for Christis Hadjimitsis, Nicolas Karidas, Christodoulos Patsalides, Eliza Livadiotou, and Despina Kyriakidou.

The state has appealed their acquittal and on Friday Clerides appeared before the court to request an adjournment pending the appeal.

Polys Polyviou, defending Livadiotou, blamed the attorney-general and the Legal Service for the delays in the trial, describing their actions as “misguided.”

“This is the big difference’ I don’t blame the court; the responsibility lies entirely with the Legal Service and the attorney-general for the turn the case took with the misguided actions documented in the interim decision (that acquitted the two),” Polyviou said.

Clerides took offence, replying that such an accusation should not be voiced in a courtroom.

“We exercised the right to appeal; we have every right to be heard by the supreme court of this country as do the defendants who exercised their right to raise pretrial objections,” Clerides said.

To this, Polyviou retorted by referring to recent allegations that his firm controlled the supreme court.

“The supreme court which you deride in the newspapers,” he said.

The attorney-general asked the court to record the comment in the minutes, suggesting it was libellous.

The court urged the two sides to calm down.

It upheld the AG’s request and adjourned until March 4.

Defendants in the case are accused of conspiring to reclassify the bank’s holdings in Greek bonds – with an effective date of April 1, 2010 – with intent to defraud investors.

The bonds were reclassified in a manner as to indicate the bank had suffered fewer losses than it actually did, conveying a better picture overall of the lender’s financials.

In turn, this resulted in the stock value being listed higher than it would otherwise have been – a move which state prosecutors believe is tantamount to market manipulation.

The prosecution asserts the date on a document containing the minutes of a meeting of the BoC Group’s Assets and Liabilities Committee (ALCO) of April 7, 2010 had been altered.

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