Tepak fraudsters’ list rises to 14
By Angelos Anastasiou
FOURTEEN suspects were remanded on Saturday, four for six days and the rest for eight, in connection with cases of fraud at the Limassol-based technical university (Tepak) and the University of Cyprus, with the prime suspect alleging she will name others also involved in the scam.
The three latest arrests, two UCy officers aged 60 and 61, and a 36-year-old architect who was an external associate on EU-funded projects, appeared to be involved in four out of 23 co-funded research programmes under investigation for embezzlement through fake invoices and fixed tenders.
The programmes in question are Enpiraop Med, Premarpol, and Akti, some of which are also linked to the Oceanographic Centre of the University of Cyprus. The total value of the suspect programmes is about €5m and the amount embezzled a further €500,000.
Investigators told the court that the gang issued cheques in the names of a 74-year-old housewife, who was declared as “scientific staff” for the purposes of various research programmes, a 72-year-old shepherd and a window-blinds technician, who had been named “software development experts”.
The three were instructed to cash the cheques and return the money to the ringleaders.
The racket appears to have been led and coordinated by Rosita Pavlidou, a 57-year-old former Tepak employee.
The remaining suspects are Tepak university professor Costas Costa and nine of Pavlidou’s relatives, whom she allegedly threatened to ensure they were included in research programmes.
One witness claimed Pavlidou had said she knew people in the underworld and “it would only take a phone call to place a bomb somewhere.”
In court on Saturday, her lawyer said she would be willing to give a comprehensive statement that would “bring others here”.
Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said this was one of the most serious fraud cases being investigated, with an officer from the Audit Office seconded to help in the investigation that includes inspecting bank accounts of suspects.