We might soon be witnessing prosecutions on the near collapse of the Cyprus economy last year, as the Attorney General’s Office is in the final stages of drawing up case files on possible suspects. Justice Minister Ionas Nikolaou said that the relevant evidence has been assessed and arrests were expected in the near future. He was not explicit on a timeframe, but according to sources, it could be as early as the end of the month or possibly early April.
The minister clarified that the initial number of cases to be prosecuted is small, but there are those where the evidence is enough to go to court. He assured that individuals found to have possible connections with the economic crisis will be brought to justice. Nikolaou stressed that authorities cannot be hasty in picking up suspects, but will first collect and shift through the evidence comprehensively, to ensure the best possible result.
Experts in financial crime have been commissioned to assist in several aspects of the investigation and particular cases that require more specialization. Ireland’s experience will also be sought but there’s not enough money to hire international legal houses dealing with such crimes. ‘There is no need’, the Justice Minister noted, ‘to commission a firm simply to get general advice, but can utilize precedence, such as Ireland and receive advice from experts on particular fields’.
A three member legal panel appointed by the President, (without power of prosecution) had gone through a lengthy investigation process, taking hundreds of testimonies (in public) and submitted its conclusions last autumn. Police also completed an investigation several months ago. It’s been almost a year since a mid-March Eurogroup decision that enforced a ‘bail in’ on Cyprus, with depositors taking the burden of preventing a banking sector collapse that would lead to default.