Attorney General Costas Clerides today said that investigations into alleged payments by a Greek firm to two of the biggest political parties in Cyprus are continuing after reports that he was set to say whether or not it looked like offences took place.
According to reports in Politis newspaper, both ruling party Disy and opposition party Akel secured cash injections from Greek maritime firm Focus running up to the 2008 presidential elections – which had seen ex-president Demetris Christofias emerge victorious. Akel leader Andros Kyprianou and Disy leader Averoff Neophytou – who both deny any wrongdoing from their side – have already requested meetings with Clerides to discuss the allegations.
“The investigators have been instructed to continue their work in a bid to find more evidence on this issue in both Cyprus and Greece”, read an announcement this morning from the attorney general’s office.
Kyprianou had previously demanded to see the evidence in the hands of investigators and which allegedly implicates his party. But his request was today denied by Clerides who argued that the revealing of evidence “either publically or confidentially” could jeoparidise the ongoing investigation.
The reports in Politis claimed that Akel received just over €1million form Focus while Disy pocketed €500,000 from Focus which is owned by Greek shipowner Michalis Zolotas and who is said to be a close friend of the now defunct Laiki bank boss Andreas Vgenopoulos.
The same maritime firm is also said to have had a hand in the highly-suspicious €1m transfer of funds into the account of former central bank governor boss Christodoulos Christodoulou a year before the 2008 presidential elections. The money was said to have been transferred just after he stepped down from his post.
Political parties Edek and Citizen’s Alliance have both called for a rigorous investigation into the claims arguing that Focus was “acting as a buffer for Vgenopoulos who was bribing officials” on both sides of political spectrum in Cyprus.
Vgenopoulos has not only denied allegations that he made “donations” to political parties but has also waved away accusations that he has ever had close ties with Zolotas.
Prior to Laiki bank’s collapse back in 2012, it held a 16% share of the market in loans and a 14.4% share of deposits.
It later emerged that the bank had made a series of large loans, many to Greek companies prior to and during their financial crisis. What followed has been described as "billions handed out in bad loans created a financial time-bomb".
After the bank collapsed, it was rescued by the Cypriot government, which took 84% ownership later that same year before being dismantled last year.