Cyprus Mail

AG denies corruption charges

File photo: Attorney-General George Savvides

Attorney General George Savvides strongly denied corruption charges on Tuesday after a lawyer accused his office of collaborating with a billionaire Russian oligarch to allow an allegedly illegal $113.4 million deal go unpunished.

In a lengthy letter to President Nikos Christodoulides, lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou sought to report the AG and his deputy, saying they had “cast a shield of protection” around Russian oligarch Oleg Boyko.

Prompting the complaint is Efstathiou’s claim that $113.4 million worth of shares were stolen from his client Ilya Alekseevitch Surkov and illegally transferred to Boyko through Cyprus-registered companies.

Shares in a Russian mall

This was achieved after Boyko allegedly used false representations to illegally transfer all the shares that Orlando Heights Ltd had in Greencat Services Ltd, to one of his own interests Finstroy Ltd, the last two of which are registered in Cyprus.

As such, he ended up holding 80 per cent of the assets Orlando Heights had in Moscow’s Altufievo Mall, without Surkov knowing about it, the lawyer claims.

Nonetheless, criminal charges against Boyko were dropped by the legal service, citing insufficient witness material for a criminal prosecution in Cyprus.

A few million to ‘sort out’ the case

Efstathiou cried foul, saying this went against the public interest, He also filed three separate complaints to the anti-corruption authority.

The authority’s head Charis Poyiadjis told the Cyprus Mail “we did not find any evidence of corruption.”

Efstathiou claimed Boyko said he spent three million in Cyprus to “sort out his case” and therefore had “nothing to be afraid of”.

The AG hit back, rubbishing the claims, saying the lawyer was using every means possible to exert pressure that could ultimately lead to decisions that would benefit his client.

Fake representations

The alleged offences took place in 2012.

Efstathiou told the Cyprus Mail the two businessmen had a deal allowing shares of 64,000m² of property at the mall to be transferred but 126,000m² ended up being transferred.

This was a result of false representations by Boyko’s partner in Cyprus, that convinced the trustee to sign the transfer, he claimed.

International arrest warrant

According to Efstathiou, the oligarch avoided questioning for four years, prompting police to issue a Red Notice international arrest warrant, where Boyko became a wanted man in Cyprus.

Efstathiou claims after the arrest warrant, Boyko sent a team of his lawyers to meet with police and the legal service.

For unknown reasons, the arrest warrant was then scrapped.

The private lawsuit filed by Efstathiou over the case was also suspended following orders by the AG, citing insufficient witness material.

Sketchy background

Both businessmen implicated in the story which Efstathiou described as “the largest in Cyprus’ criminal history” have made headlines across the globe.

Surkov was wanted in Russia for alleged fraud, and is reported to hold a Greek passport. Though he was jailed in Russia, Surkov eventually made it to the UK.

Russian authorities sought to extradite him, however a British court ruled he would be in danger of persecution and as such, was allowed to remain in the UK on political asylum grounds due to humanitarian protection.

Boyko had been sanctioned by Canada and Australia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though Canada lifted the sanctions following a lawsuit.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly said Boyko had “concerning ties” to the Russian state and criminality.

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