AG transfers Loizidou, orders disciplinary, data-theft probes (Update-1)

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(Updates with AG comment in first paragraph and background in seventh paragraph)

By Stelios Orphanides

Attorney-general Costas Clerides said on Monday he decided to transfer senior attorney Eleni Loizidou from the Law Office’s department for extraditions of fugitives to another department and to order a disciplinary investigation.

Clerides also ordered a police investigation into possible offences into the probable theft and publication of Loizidou’s email communications, he said in a statement on the Press and Information Office’s website a day after Politis published the leaked emails exposing Lozidou’s ties with Russian officials. The theft and publication of communications data may constitute a criminal offence if the provisions of the law are not met, Clerides said.

In another statement, hours earlier, the AG said that while he would refrain from commenting or making his views public about the emails amid pending judicial procedures including requests for legal assistance, he would deal with them “as soon as possible”.

He also said that the issue had “several aspects” in addition to the “probable illegal theft” of email correspondence. These included probable influence in pending court cases concerning requests by the Russian Federation for legal assistance to which the reports make reference to.

In addition, there was an issue with likely influence in Russian authorities’ requests for legal assistance as their examination is still pending, and a probable issue with the conduct of the attorney involved with respect to the forwarding of information to the state requesting legal assistance which go beyond the strict limits of briefings about the course of the requests and related issues, Clerides said.

Lastly, he said, there was an issue with the use of a personal email account to forward official and confidential information.

Clerides was commenting after Politis on Sunday published leaked email correspondence between Loizidou and Russian officials concerning cases involving requests for the extradition of suspects to Russia, legal assistance, the status of judicial proceedings, and advice on how to proceed in certain cases in order to ensure desired outcomes.

In some of the leaked emails from Loizidou’s personal account, she appears to request favours from Russian officials, including support for a judge position at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) of the Council of Europe, or even, though jokingly, a job if she was sacked for passing information to Russia.

On Monday, Politis followed up with a new report in which Loizidou appears to advise another Russian official on how to have Russian nationals living in Cyprus stripped of Cypriot citizenship and how to legally overturn the decision of Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou to temporarily freeze cooperation with Russia in a probe against Hermitage Capital founder Bill Browder last month.

“As I said at the meetings of the team, the minister has in my opinion no authority to stop the forwarding of evidence collected by the prosecuting authority, as the law on legal assistance prescribes,” she was cited as saying. “The minister has, as the authority in charge, the power to initially examine whether the preconditions are met in tasking the prosecuting authority, which includes investigators, with the collection of evidence”.

“In the requesting country, there must be a criminal case and the offences must not be political,” she appears to say according to Politis.

After the minister is satisfied that the above criteria are met, he has no authority, as per law which is in line with a relevant Council of Europe treaty, to withhold collected evidence, Loizidou appears to say. Unlike in extradition cases, the minister does not have the last say, even after a decision of the Supreme Court, she added.

Investor-turned-activist Browder resorted to a Cypriot court two months ago to prevent Cyprus from cooperating with Russia in an investigation against and his associate Ivan Cherkasov him with an emergency injunction. The Russian probe is in response to Browder’s campaign for justice for lawyer Sergei Magnitsky who died in a Russian prison eight years ago after exposing a $230m tax theft. The police officers Magnitsky implicated in the case arrested him, had him tortured and deprived of access to medical treatment.

The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly asked member states almost four years ago to follow the US example and impose legislation punishing individuals responsible for Magnitsky’s death and ignore Russia’s requests for cooperation in its case against Browder which the council considers politically motivated. Interpol repeatedly ignores Russia’s arrest warrants against the investor.

Days before President Anastasiades’s visit to Moscow, the Russian foreign ministry and the Russian ambassador to Nicosia, Stanislav Osadchiy strongly criticised Cyprus for freezing cooperation in the investigation against Browder whom Russian President Vladimir Putin considers as a personal opponent.

In Monday’s report, Politis also reported on Loizidou’s alleged complaints against Anastasiades’s decision to remove her from the candidates list for the ECtHR judge position after she had been accused of inappropriate behaviour.

Politis added that Loizidou, in an email exchange with Vladimir Zimin, deputy head of the department for international cooperation at the Russian prosecutor general’s office, said the true reasons for her removal from the said list was a punishment for her alleged success in helping in the extradition of suspects to Russia which negatively affected the financial interests of third parties.

In another email, the senior attorney appears to criticise the chairman of the Supreme Court Myron Nicolatos for the delay in the extradition cases of two Russian nationals, according to the Cypriot daily.

 

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Stelios Orphanides is a journalist at CyprusBusinessMail.com. To contact Stelios Orphanides: [email protected]

  • Didier Ouzaid

    ““probable illegal theft” of email correspondence”

    Yeah, get that sh*t out of bound on a technicality. Call the Russians to reassure them right after.

    • Barry White

      The Chocolate Soldier from Moscow will be visiting the Palace shortly to provide guidance and instructions from the Center.

  • Barry White

    Can we see an update on the Headlines on the stories to improve accuracy, CM ?
    The woman named is a Senior Attorney in the Government of Cyprus Law Office and not a simple attorney working in a storefront private office.

    Is she acting on Government instructions tacit or not, is she acting on the Browder case in which it is Cyprus Government policy to flaunt EU decisions not to cooperate with the Russian State in these matters. How many Government emails, inside discussions, and information has been provided to a foreign State?

    Who else in Government is actively assisting mother Russia against Cyprus?

    • SuzieQ

      “There are more questions than answers”

      • Neroli

        You could do a duet!!

    • mazuate

      by using her personal email for exchanges shows she was looking after her own personal agenda and ambitions not uncommon in CY

    • gentlegiant161

      The AG seems more concerned that the information is out in the public domain and how it got there…the attorney having commited such an offence should have been suspended imnediately .

    • “EU decisions” to allow bankrupt Cypriot financial institutions to loot bank accounts because the funds were mainly owned by Russians. Let us get some balance here.

      • Barry White

        Your post seems to refer to another article as this one is about a Civil Servant who has been providing government information to Russia.

        As a correction to yours, depositors’ funds were looted exclusively by the Government of Cyprus and not the financial institutions. The Government of Cyprus and its financial institutions were and remain bankrupt.

        • I was reacting to your post which stated “it is Cyprus Government policy to flaunt all EU decisions not to cooperate with the Russian state in these matters.” I was pointing out that Russian investments in Cyprus were ransacked as part of Europe’s attempts to undermine Russia.

          Whether the Cypriot State or Cypriot banks stole the Russian money is besides the point…..the Eurogroup, consisting of the 27 EU finance ministers, ordered the bail-in of depositors’ funds, the first time such theft of private property had been authorised by the EU. Cyprus economic growth had up to that point been financed with Russian money – hence Cyprus’ co-operation with Russia.

          Cyprus is like the rest of Europe – a criminal enterprise designed to enrich banks, corporations and politicians by trapping EU citizens in ever-increasing debt and taxes. The government of Cyprus and its financial institutions are not bankrupt – quite the reverse, because you and I are forced to pay the bill.

          • Barry White

            “The government of Cyprus and its financial institutions are not bankrupt – quite the reverse, because you and I are forced to finance them.”

            Did that once before to the tune of millions. Then cut them off in the same amounts by shifting company domicile to a more sensible environment in the EU.

            Since then have aggressively ensured that little more than ‘ walking around’ money is exposed to the Cypriot “banking system.”

            Savings run into many 10’s of thousands and sleep like a baby.

            There was a lot more than Russian money stolen by the State. Of course, the Elite were little inconvenienced as were the AKEL and others using the cesss pit known as the Coop.

            It is important to understand that the State looted the depositors’ money. Simply as the State and Civil Servants bankrupted the State, the Banks were bankrupted by many of the same plus much of the indigenous population with NPL’s encouraged by the State.

    • elbmw

      Some interesting questions Barry. Would love to know the answers myself. It kind of reminds me of the Clinton email leaks though. There are dark forces engaging in nefarious activities such as stealing information and using it to blackmail people.

  • Martin Standage

    Just how the Russian website ‘Kompromat’ got this information and personal e-mails sent by a senior member of the Cyprus judiciary via her personal e-mail address is one of many questions which this case poses?The way that the A.G. has acted to have her moved to another department where she will no longer be dealing with extradition requests could be merely an act of caution to safe guard his own reputation or whether it is an attempt to conceal his own compliancy with the Russian governments requests is another one?
    Whatever, there is no smoke without fire and the fact that the Cyprus government seems very unwilling to upset Moscow about the Browder case and others which this latest report gave details of seems to indicate that they have much more ‘Kompromat’ to be afraid of which is linked with Cyprus?These techniques have been a method used by the Russians since Soviet times to entrap those who accept favours from them into compromising positions and with Putin and many of his cronies being members of the FSB, which is the KGB successor, it is hardly surprising that the practice is evidently still continuing-as Putin said himself, nobody really leaves the FSB as long as they are alive!

    • Evergreen

      True.

  • Omilitis

    I wonder if potential Cyprus Passport programme investors are informed beforehand that later on Cyprus state attorneys will be advising their foreign counterparts on how to strip them of it?

  • One can only come to one conclusion in Cyprus….crime, fraud and theft must be part of the National Curriculum of Cypriot schools.

    • elbmw

      Its nature and nurture. And it doesn’t apply to all Cypriots who by and large are good honest people. These scandals are a daily occurrence in (probably) every government in the world and it is representative of the type of people that enter into politics and not the whole population.

      For example, just because Netanyahu is under investigation, as is his wife, it does not mean that scandalous behavior is taught in Israeli schools does it?