The Appeals Court has voided a prior court ruling which had fined a former banker €100,000 for having made misleading statements concerning the cash flow of now-defunct Laiki (Popular) Bank.

The decision by the three-judge bench was not unanimous.

The matter concerns Efthymios Bouloutas, former CEO of Laiki Bank (February 2008 to December 2011).

In October 2013 the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) had slapped an administrative fine of €100,000 on Bouloutas. The banker then challenged the action with the administrative court.

But the court found against him and ordered him to pay the fine.

According to the administrative court’s findings, during a news conference Bouloutas, responding to a journalist’s question, stated: “The [Laiki] Group] is robust, it has liquidity and at the moment it does not need capital, so any reference to an increase in capital does not apply.”

The SEC had then investigated the matter, concluding that his statement was misleading given that, at the time, Laiki did not have the required regulatory liquidity and moreover it was drawing liquidity from the Emergency Liquidity Assistance mechanism.

Following the administrative court’s ruling, Bouloutas appealed with the Appeals Court, which recently found in the banker’s favour and voided the SEC fine.

In November 2018, Nicosia criminal court found Bouloutas and three other senior Laiki executives guilty of market manipulation and submitting false or misleading information while publishing an interim consolidated financial statement in November 2011, in which they omitted to include a goodwill writedown of €330 million for Marfin Popular Bank’s – as Laiki was then known – operations in Greece.

Bouloutas was fined €150,000 but walked away without a prison sentence.

Laiki Bank was shuttered in March 2013 as part of the island’s bailout agreement with international lenders following a banking crisis.