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Zolotas resigns as chief of Newlead

Zolotas resigns as chief of Newlead

NewLead Holdings announced 25 October the resignation of Michael Zolotas as board chairman, president and ceo, though he remains the biggest shareholder of Piraeus-based NewLead, which trades on the US over-the-counter market.

Zolotas, 42, is one of the more colourful members of the y-generation of the Greek shipping community, resigned from NewLead, effective 19 October, though the company only announced the move 25 October.

He is succeeded in all three posts by his cousin, Anna Zolota, 38, a NewLead executive. NewLead owns three bulk carriers and five bitumen tankers and was previously listed on Nasdaq's main board before losing its battle to remain there.

A NewLead statement said Zolotas' resignation was due to “personal reasons” following recent developments in a strictly personal legal matter, which is wholly unrelated to NewLead". This refers to his detention in Athens on 19 October on an international arrest warrant issued by Cypriot authorities in connection with a probe into Laiki Bank, a defunct lender.

Zolotas voluntarily produced himself at a Greek magistrate in Athens appeared voluntarily at Greek police to comply with the warrant.

Zolota, joined the company in 2009 and was most recently its vice president of the commercial department. Prior to joining NewLead she worked with the Tsakos Group.

“NewLead will continue to reinforce its ability to operate in today's challenging shipping market conditions,” Anna Zolota said in the statement.

She said: “We will carry-on enhancing the company's platform to support NewLead's growth, through a dedicated team of people who ensure the overall efficient performance of our vessels, capitalising on long-standing relationships across the board while adapting to today's difficult times for the global shipping industry."

The Cyprus arrest warrant stems from an acrimonious banking case and Zolotas is among several Greeks, including other shipping people, whom Cypriot authorities have chased in connection with a legal battle in which Marfin Investment Group founder Andreas Vgenopoulos is suing Cyprus for more than EUR1bn ($1.1bn).

Cypriot authorities, name Zolotas as the owner of Focus Maritime Corporation, which allegedly paid EUR1m to a company connected to Christodoulos Christodoulou, then governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus.

Last December NewLead was accused by a New York Supreme Court judge of “playing a game” by its delaying in producing evidence in a $6.2m battle over a collapsed coal deal.

Judge Charles Ramos ordered the Greek shipowner to turn over the hard drive to his computer as part of a lawsuit by TransAsia Commodities, a London firm which sued NewLead and coal mining jv NewLead JMEG in 2013 alleging they were signing agreements to sell coal they did not have as part of an effort to inflate NewLead’s share price on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

The company, has conceded liability on a breach-of-contract claim but is fighting other claims and the damages claimsought by TransAsia.

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