European experts to scrutinize corruption charges against Cyprus judges

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-17 04:12:57|Editor: yan
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NICOSIA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Council of Europe anti-corruption body announced on Wednesday that it is sending a high level delegation in Cyprus to scrutinize charges against members of the Supreme Court in a case that has thrown the Cypriot judiciary in an unprecedented crisis.

Group of States against Corruption, known as GRECO, said in a statement that it has expressed its readiness to offer its assistance to the Republic of Cyprus to handle the dispute that has broken out in the justice system.

The Cypriot unit of GRECO said in a statement that high officials of GRECO will be visiting Cyprus in the next few weeks to offer guidance on the issue.

"As part of Cyprus' outstanding compliance report regarding its fourth evaluation round, which is related to the judiciary, a team of senior GRECO officers will visit Cyprus to provide additional guidance," said the statement.

Attorney General Costas Clerides, who gave substance to allegations of corruption of top judges, said GRECO requested information on the issue and expressed interest in helping the effort to clear up the issue.

GRECO, which comprises 49 European states and the United States, was set up in 1999 to act as an anti-corruption watchdog through closely monitoring member states for their compliance with Council of Europe standards against corruption of any kind.

GRECO has no executive authority, but it could make recommendations.

The Attorney General blew the lid by openly criticizing the president of the Supreme Court Myron Nicolatos of casting his winning vote in favor of putting aside a conviction of Bank of Cyprus and its former CEO on charges of market manipulation.

Clerides said he did so despite knowing that the lender had accepted the pay to his daughter and sister the value of written off bonds, in an out-of-court arrangement which the Bank refused to tens of thousands of other depositors.

Reinforcing the Attorney General's accusations, Demetra Kalogirou, the president of Securities and Exchange Commission, told state radio that the commission had also investigated the charges and came to the conclusion that the Bank and its officials had manipulated the market by providing false information.

She said they had told a general meeting of shareholders in 2012 that the bank needed a couple of thousands of euros to recapitalize.

The following year, when economic crisis hit Cyprus, international experts found that Bank of Cyprus actually needed about 4.5 billion euros to bring its tier 1 capital ratio to European Union levels.

Embattled Supreme Court President Nicolatos resisted pressure on Wednesday to resign, saying that the arrangement between the Bank and his relatives was made by following all legal procedures.

However, Demetris Syllouris, president of the Cypriot parliament, called on the Ethics Committee to discuss the issue and demand investigation of issues which the statements of the Attorney General brought to light.

The Attorney General also accused three other judges of taking part in a separate trial in which Bank of Cyprus and some of its former high officials were cleared of charges of market manipulation and falsification of accounts, despite the fact that the children of two of the judges and the spouse of the third were employed by the law office representing the accused.