Cyprus Mail

Objections lodged to prosecution expert in Focus trial

Former central bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou

The defence in the corruption trial involving former central bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou raised objections on Tuesday over a prosecution expert witness who would have testified on the route of a €1m payment.

Demetris Loucaides, a graduate of the London School of Economics who worked in the banking sector for the past 30 years, had prepared a report regarding a €1m payment made by a company in Greece to a company controlled by Christodoulou in Cyprus.

Christodoulou is accused of accepting a €1m payment to turn a blind eye to the takeover of former Laiki Bank in 2006 by late financier Andreas Vgenopoulos.

The defence objected to Loucaides’ testimony, arguing that his conclusions suggested Christodoulou and shipowner Michalis Zolotas, the owner of Focus Maritime Corp, were guilty, something which was the court’s duty to decide.

The prosecution countered that Loucaides’ testimony would shed light on how the cash ended up in Christodoulou’s account. It argued that Loucaides’ professional experience made him an expert who can testify in court on specialised banking issues and transactions.

The court said it will announce its decision on Wednesday.

Earlier, human resources manager at Laiki Bank at the time Polikarpos Votsis testified about the recruitment of Andreas Kizourides by the lender.

Kizourides was Christodoulou’s son in law at the time and was among the defendants in the case until recently when he turned state witness and the charges were dropped.

Votsis said Kizourides had been hired by Vgenopoulos directly to head the lender’s communications and corporate affairs department.

In his testimony, Kizourides said he had been hired after his former father in law spoke to Vgenopoulos.
Votsis said that Kizourides’ employment application carried his name and that of the chairman of the union of bank workers Etyk Loizos Hadjicostis as the individuals recommending him for the position.

Votsis said his name was placed on the application as a formality since Kizourides had already been hired.

Christodoulou, daughter Athina Christodoulou, Zolotas, former Laiki official Michalis Fole, and companies AC Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, Marfin Investment Group (MIG), and Focus Maritime Corp. face a total of 24 charges including corruption, bribery, abuse of authority, abuse of trust, and money laundering.

Zolotas faces a single count relating to money laundering.

The money was paid into the account of the consulting firm technically owned by Christodoulou’s daughter, and it is alleged that it was actually done on behalf of former Laiki strongman Vgenopoulos in exchange for the former governor’s collusion during the Greek financier’s 2006 takeover of Laiki. Laiki closed down in 2013, while Vgenopoulos, widely held responsible for the collapse, died in November 2016.

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