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Society

Cyprus’ Former Central Bank Chief Charged Over Laiki Bank Scandal

March 22, 2017

NICOSIA – Former Cyprus Central Bank Governor Christodoulos Christodoulou will face charges over a one-million euro ($1.08 million) payment allegedly made for collusion during the Laiki Bank takeover in 2006.

The Cyprus Mail reported that the case was referred to trial before the criminal court on March 22 with proceedings due to begin April 4 and will include as defendants four other people and three companies.

They reportedly include Greek shipowner Michalis Zolotas, Christodoulou’s daughter Athina, her ex-husband Andreas Kizourides, former Laiki official Michael Fole, and companies A. C. Christodoulou Consultants Ltd, Marfin Investment Group (MIG), and Focus Maritime Corp.

Two others, Andreas Vgenopoulos – who died in November 2016 and who took over Laiki before it collapsed and almost brought down the island’s banking industry and economy with it in 2013 – and former executive Kyriacos Magiras were dropped from the charge sheet.

Charges against Magiras had to be dropped after Greek authorities refused to extradite him to Cyprus because some of the alleged offences had lapsed while others were committed in Greece.

Investigators said that the one-million euro payment from Zolotas’ Focus to Christodoulou’s consulting firm (technically owned by his daughter) was really made on behalf of Vgenopoulos in exchange for Christodoulou’s help in acquiring Laiki.

The defendants face a total of 29 charges including corruption, bribery, abuse of authority, abuse of trust, and money laundering. Zolotas faces a single count relating to money laundering. The defendants were released pending the hearing next month.

The case had been delayed repeatedly due to the refusal of the Greek nationals to appear before the court in person which is a common practice in Greece.

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