Cyprus Mail

Sizopoulos called to clear the air on loan write-off

Marinos Sozopoulos after voting in last Sunday's elections (CNA)

Socialist Edek cadres have called on their leader Marinos Sizopoulos to clear the air regarding persistent reports that a company he was tied to had a loan written off, as the issue seeped into the wheeling-and-dealing over the upcoming election of a new House president.

In a statement on Thursday, former Edek MP Giorgos Varnava said Sizopoulos needed to provide specific evidence to dispel rumours that cast both him and the party in a bad light.

Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,” Varnava said.

He was commenting on the back of a news report – also published Thursday – by daily Politis concerning a company in which Sizopoulos acted as director and was a shareholder.

This company was in turn a shareholder – along with others – in another corporation which had taken out two loans from a bank.

The second company fell back on its loan repayments, and in 2017 amid threat of litigation it struck a deal with the lender, where the interest on the amount outstanding would be forgiven.

The loan write-off amounted to €956,000.

Sizopoulos and others signed as guarantors in the 2017 loan repayment agreement. At the time of the contract, technically his shares in the first company were owned by his daughters.

Moreover, according to Politis, the loan agreement had a confidentiality clause, by which the guarantors or the company committed to not disclosing details of the agreement, nor reproduce or store any copies of this information deemed confidential.

Contacted by the paper for a comment, Sizopoulos said that although he was company director, he did not receive a salary, nor did he take decisions on the corporation’s behalf.

“The loan took place in 2007 and 2009, I became a shareholder in 2009 and left in 2012,” he offered.

“I had no relation, no involvement. The bank demanded this arrangement take place in that manner, I had no reason to refuse. The shareholders decided to agree, I signed on behalf of the company, and that was that.”

Politis also discovered that in Sizopoulos’ income and assets declaration as an MP for the year 2017, he had not mentioned the company in question, even though the form contains a field where MPs state their participation in private businesses.

Addressing this, Sizopoulos said his lawyers advised him at the time he did not need to declare a company in which he was a director if he was not a decision-maker and/or did not receive wages.

Beyond Sizopoulos, the newspaper also revealed that earlier this year Edek’s financial director had issued three cheques from the party’s chequebook to take care of personal business.

Giorgos Koutoukis, the party’s financial director, issued the three cheques – all dated January 13 – to pay for the rent of a company he had a stake in. The company had fallen behind on its rent payments and was being threatened with eviction.

Koutoukis did not deny doing this but attributed it to an error on his part. He claimed that due to his heavy workload at the time, he confused the party’s chequebook with his own.

He said he has since refunded the full amount to the party.

But according to Politis, the ‘error’ explanation leaves a lot to be desired. That’s because Edek’s cheques require two signatures – one by the financial director, the other by another person.

Asked about this point as well, Sizopoulos distanced himself from any shenanigans. As party leader he does not control or supervise party finances, he said.

Meantime the affair – which the media had also reported on in the past – was used by the Greens in lambasting Edek for its alleged poor transparency record.

In remarks, cadres of the Greens said they could never back someone from Edek as House president.

Sizopoulos has been named as a potential candidate for the position.

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