Attorney General Costas Clerides disapproves of the acquittal of former banker Andreas Eliades, saying cases involving the collapse of the credit and financial system are “difficult and complicated.”
Following the acquittal of former Bank of Cyprus CEO Andreas Eliades by the Supreme Court, Clerides told the CNA News Agency that he disagreed with the 2 to 1 decision both on legal grounds as well as basic arguments presented in court.
Eliades, who was found guilty back in December 2017 on stock manipulation charges, was acquitted Wednesday in a two to one decision by the Supreme Court, with two judges, Nikolatou and Economou, saying the CEO chose to make misleading comments to conceal some facts during a moment of being peppered with questions rather than consciously manipulate shareholders.
Burden of proof almost impossible to meet
But following the decision, the attorney general expressed the view that the acquittal decision serves as proof that such cases will be hard to prove in a court of law.
“This ruling makes the burden of proof almost impossible to meet because, despite the documented and proven act of misleading that is experienced among shareholders and possibly the wider public due to untruthful statements by bank executives, it cannot be proven beyond reasonable doubt as an act of market manipulation,” Clerides said.
Common ground for appeal
A failure to meet the burden of proof was a common ground for appeal, where Eliades’ lawyers successfully argued that a motive could not be established as to the market manipulation charges.
The two judges found that the banker’s aim was to “reassure shareholders and or the public” while acknowledging that his answers had certainly been misleading, citing a lower court find that Eliades had tried to thwart negative reactions or prevent moves in the market.
“But the question before us centers on whether those statements were made to manipulate moves in the market,” the judges said.
Judge Psara-Miltiadou disagreed with her colleagues.
“Because this had to do with false statements, uttered precisely under the circumstances already explained, the so-called ‘reassuring’ aimed exactly at manipulating the market through presenting untruthful information, said the dissenting judge.
The attorney general told CNA that despite the disagreement, he respects the Supreme Court decision.