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Cyprus

Ex CBC boss denies knowing Greek businessman

Former Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) governor Christodoulos Christodoulou

The former central bank governor had denied knowing a Greek businessman who paid him €1m supposedly for consultancy services in 2007, a court heard on Thursday in the corruption trial involving the disgraced top banker.

Christodoulos Christodoulou is on trial for allegedly accepting the cash in exchange for agreeing to the 2006 takeover of Laiki by Greek financier Andreas Vgenopoulos.  Laiki has since been shuttered.

The former central bank governor was jailed for five months in 2015 of tax evasion relating to the cash.

On Thursday, radio host Lazaros Mavros told the court that on June 21, 2013 he had interviewed Christodoulou over the phone during a morning new show on Radio Proto.

Mavros said he asked the former banker to comment on a frontpage story by daily Politis, which said Christodoulou had received €1m.

In the interview Christodoulou said he did not know anything about the report and suggested the paper was trying to frame him.

He accused the paper of repeatedly running “baseless” reports about him, adding that he had filed libel suits against them.

Christodoulou said he could not give any details about the money because it had been paid to his daughter’s company, AC Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, and he had nothing to do with it.

He claimed he took over the company after 2010 when he left the central bank.

“Personally, I am not worried of anything improper on behalf of my daughter’s company, in which I repeat, I was no shareholder,” he said.

Asked if he knew Vgenopoulos and Michalis Zolotas, the businessman whose company paid the cash, Christodoulou said “I don’t know Mr Zolotas.”

His defence lawyer, Efstathios Efstathiou, put it to the witness that the response was given because his client had been woken up and was taken by surprise.

“And it is something that can happen to any person when they are caught off guard, to respond without thinking straight,” Efstathiou said.

Apart from Christodoulou, the charge sheet includes Zolotas, the former governor’s daughter, Athina, her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides, former Laiki official Michael Fole, and companies A. C. Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, Marfin Investment Group (MIG), and Focus Maritime Corp.

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