Cyprus Mail

Christodoulou auditor says he was told nothing about €1m payment

Former Central Bank chief Christodoulos Christodoulou (file photo)

An auditor told a court on Wednesday he was initially given no details about a €1m payment made to a company controlled by former central bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou who is accused of taking the money to allow the takeover of the former Laiki bank.

The money was paid into the account of a consulting firm technically owned by Christodoulou’s daughter, Athina, and it is alleged that it was actually done on behalf of former Laiki Bank strongman, the late Andreas Vgenopoulos, in exchange for the former governor’s collusion during the Greek financier’s 2006 takeover of Laiki.

Christodoulou’s auditor, Christos Ktorides, told the criminal court on Wednesday that he knew nothing of the payment made to AC Christodoulou Consultants Ltd by Focus Maritime Corp while preparing his accounts for 2007.

He said when the company was registered, Athina was the director and main shareholder but Christodoulou did most of the work.

The company had been idle from the date of its creation until mid-2007.

On February 1, 2010, Christodoulou replaced Athina as director and main shareholder.

Ktorides said he found out about the payment in the summer of 2008, when Christodoulou told him without disclosing any details.

“I immediately told Mr Christodoulou that if he had done such a transaction it must be recorded in the books,” he said. “I also asked for the bank details to ask for a confirmation of the bank balance.”

The court heard that no further details were given and Christodoulou asked him to wait for a bit.

“During this time, I realised that he was contemplating how to invest the €1m,” Ktorides said.

The matter was revisited again towards the end of 2009 when Ktorides asked Christodoulou about it and he told him to wait because he was having family problems.

Christodoulou gave him the details of the transaction in March 2013.

“According to Mr Christodoulou, the reason he did not tell me about the €1m payment was because he thought the tax on the amount had been paid. From what Mr Christodoulou told me, his daughter told him the tax had been paid. I told him if the tax had been paid, I should have known about it as the company accountant.”

Christodoulou was jailed for five months in 2014 after he was found guilty of tax evasion because he failed to declare the payment.

The cash was paid to the consultancy firm on July 27, 2007 by Focus, which belonged to Greek shipowner Michalis Zolotas. That payment had been justified as “consultancy services” without any accompanying documentation.

Apart from Christodoulou and Zolotas, the charge sheet includes former Laiki official Michalis Fole, Christodoulou’s daughter Athina and companies AC Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, Marfin Investment Group (MIG) and Focus Maritime Corp.

The defendants 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.

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