The Nicosia criminal court on Thursday acquitted five bank executives who had been charged with altering figures to present a different picture amid the economic crisis.
The case concerns former Bank of Cyprus executives Christis Hadjimitsis, Nicolas Karidas, Christodoulos Patsalides, Eliza Livadiotou and Despina Kyriakidou who faced charges of conspiring to reclassify the lender’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 of its financials, the court heard.
In an interim decision, the criminal court ruled that the state had abused the judicial process after it filed three separate cases relating to Bank of Cyprus instead of one.
In doing so, the state used several of the defendants as witnesses in the previous cases.
“In that regard, the prosecution ought to have selected who would be a defendant and who a prosecution witness and not impart a different capacity to the involved individuals depending on the case,” the court said.
“The adverse effect on the defendants is essentially self-evident simply by the fact that for a segment of the same matter, some were actively used as witnesses but were prosecuted in connection with another part.
“The overall handling, that is, the combination and coexistence of these factors has adversely affected the defendants and created special circumstances that justify termination of the process,” the court said.
Former CEO Andreas Eliades and his deputy Yiannis Kypri had also been brought on the same charges but were acquitted in December 2018 after the criminal court accepted a pretrial motion which argued that the charges had the same basis as two previous cases regarding the BoC in which the two executives had been acquitted.