- Deputy A-G claims conspiracy - Providencia skeleton comes out of the closet - Inquiry finds Erotokritou was ‘bribed’
Deputy Attorney General Rikkos Erotokritou blasted an independent probe into his attempts to offset a loan with now-defunct Laiki, which he is currently challenging at the Supreme Court, saying the investigation was a smokescreen and in reality aimed at cutting short any attempt to investigate a multi-million dollar scandal involving a Russian inheritance.
Erotokritou called a press conference where he embarked on a three-year journey, highlighting his efforts to get the Law Office to investigate the illegal possession of a holding company called Providencia, in fact a trust set up by the late Oleg Zakharov in 2002 for his three children, by the fund’s present administrator, to the detriment of Zakharov’s underaged daughter.
Providencia is the 85% owner of Rosinka International Residential Complex, a vast real estate project outside Moscow that has allegedly fallen into the hands of corrupt officials and members of the underworld.
Erotokritou said that he had asked the present and past Attorney Generals to look into the case, which the latter refrained from doing.
He said this ‘cover up’ was the reason why his 500,000 euro loan with Laiki, which he tried to offset against his deposits in the bank that were bailed-in, hence lost, came to light, because the lawyers for legacy Laiki, initially failed to show up in court fro the hearing. After the court found in Erotokritou’s favour, the lawyers from Andreas Neocleous & Co. appealed and reinstated the bank’s efforts to foreclose on the loan.
This episode was allegedly described by Central Bank Governor Chrystalla Georghadji as a ‘bribe’ in a statement by former Central Bank Executive Board Member Stelios Kiliaris.
Having made the allegations during a parliamentary hearing, in an effort to show that Georghadji was running the central bank as she liked, Kiliaris subsequently quit. Georghadji then sent a letter to Erotokritou denying she ever made the statement.
The fact that the Deputy Attorney General was involved, forced Attorney General Costas Clerides to call for a probe, tasked to former judge Panayiotis Kallis.
Clerides said that Kallis believes that Erotokritou had in fact been bribed by Neocleous and, according to the report, Erotokritou made a deal with the firm. In exchange, Erotokritou would order the prosecution of several Russian nationals against which Neocleous had disputed ownership of “Providencia Ltd”.
The individuals to be prosecuted were Russian lawyers Igor Zhigachov, administrator of the ‘Spring’ and ‘Oasis’ trust funds, as well as Armen Davidyan, Tatiana Schegolova, Alaxander Zakharov and others.
Clerides said that the evidence found that a criminal case could be charged against Erotokritou.
He noted that the Kallis’ report is not binding and said it was a “grim day” for the Law Office of the Republic.
Erotokritou countered by saying that said that if there are indications that he had been bribed, the Attorney General should also be investigated, as, according to Erotokritou, he ordered the suspension of the case against the Russian nationals after receiving a call from their lawyer Pambos Ioannides.
Erotokritou also opened another old wound by suggesting that Ioannides was involved in the Milosevic cases in the 1990s. At the time, Pambos Ioannides was a junior partner in the law office of Tassos Papadopoulos, that represented Laiki in most cases involving the Milosevic money laundering and the conspiracy coordinated by the then-manager of Beogradska Banka in Nicosia, Borka Vucic.
Erotokritou said that if he is to face criminal charges, then the bank accounts of Costas Clerides, former Attorney General Petros Clerides, Pambos Ioannides, Andreas Neoclous should also be investigated, including his own.
He also alleged that the Registrar of Companies Spyros Kokkinos may also be involved in the Providencia scandal as he allowed for the shareholder and directorate change of the company, with the consent of Neocleous who was the administrator of the trust at the time.
Costas Clerides was also disappointed that President Nicos Anastasiades got involved in the case by issuing a statement whereby he expressed his “grief and concern”.
The President said that the cabinet on Wednesday would look into the appointment of “independent criminal investigators to probe the new data” revealed by the Kallis report and Erotokritou’s claims.