Former bankers accused in 2013 banking scandal found guilty

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-12 23:13:45|Editor: yan
Video PlayerClose

NICOSIA, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Five years after Cyprus's economic crisis, four former high ranking officials of the now defunct Cyprus Popular Bank, commonly known as Laiki Bank, were found guilty on Friday of market manipulation and falsified accounts.

They are to be sentenced next Wednesday after the lawyers make pleas for leniency.

The four are the first former bank officials to be found guilty in a 2013 banking scandal that led to the winding down of Laiki Bank and the resolution of all other Cypriot lenders.

Bank of Cyprus became the first bank the world to be recapitalized by 'bail-in", in which 47.5 percent of uninsured deposits were seized and turned into bank stock as a condition for a 10-billion-euro (11.5 billion U.S. dollar) bailout of Cyprus by the Eurogroup and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The four were vice-president Neoclis Lysandrou, managing director Efthimios Bouloutas, deputy managing director Panayiotis Kounnis and executive board member Marcos Foros.

Bouloutas and Foros, who come from Greece, were close associates of the former Laiki strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos, an entrepreneur who rose to become one of the biggest businessmen of Greece, forming the Marfin Investment Group and acquiring the former Olympic Airways.

Vgenopoulos was originally on the same charge sheet as the four, but he died of a heart attack in November 2016.

Most Cypriots considered him to be responsible for the collapse of the island's banking system, having transferred hundreds of millions of euros from Laiki Bank in loans to friends in Greece with minimal security.

The defendants had pleaded 'not guilty' to several charges of market manipulation and submitting false or misleading information with regard an interim consolidated financial statement published in November 2011.

The charge said they omitted a goodwill write-down of 330 million euros for Marfin Popular Bank's (as Laiki was then known), operations in Greece.