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Bribery barbs against Cyprus parties

Prosecutors investigating the collapse of the Cypriot economy show that 1.2 million euros was given to conservative DISY and communist AKEL parties by Greek company FOCUS.

If it's true, it is a rising political and financial scandal amidst an unprecedented economic crisis. Cyprus is in a whirlwind since this morning, when news daily Politis revealed that the two major political parties on the island allegedly received 2 million euros from a Greek company.

According to the newspaper, evidence from the office of the prosecutors investigating the collapse of the Cypriot economy show that the money was given to conservative DISY and communist AKEL parties by Greek company FOCUS.

The company is owned by Michalis Zolotas, a close friend and associate of Andreas Vgenopoulos. Former CEO of Marfin Bank, Vgenopoulos is accused of playing a major part in the bank's collapse, a major factor in the collapse of the Cypriot economy.

According to the report, communist AKEL, the island's ruling party at the time of the alleged bribe, allegedly received 1.5 million, while then opposition (and now governing) party DISY got half a million.

The response from both parties was immediate. AKEL Secretary General Andros Kyprianou demanded the accusations are proven widely. He added that the issue is being presented time and again with no actual proof that the party ever received money from the company in question.

Rikkos Mappourides, DISY MP, on the other hand, asked for the judiciary to be left alone to do its job, proving or disproving the accusations. He added that although he himself knows nothing, if it is proven that his party received money from FOCUS, explanations will have to be offered.

The accusation would not go down without political repercussions from the other opposition parties. EDEK Socialist party deputy president Marinos Sizopoulos asked for further explanations about the case, linking it to the collapse of the Cypriot banking system. Other opposition parties have accused AKEL and DISY of opacity and of being two sides of the same coin and asked the island's General Prosecutor to conduct an official investigation.

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