By Peter Stevenson
A CRIMINAL investigation into the real estate deal involving state telecoms company (CyTA) will be carried out following orders from Attorney-general Petros Clerides on Friday.
According to police spokesman Andreas Angelides, Police Chief Michalis Papageorgiou had already appointed a team which is looking into the case.
The case involves the purchase of land near Larnaca Airport in 2011 by CyTA’s pension fund, from Wadnic Trading Ltd, at allegedly twice its value, when a nearby piece of land was reportedly being sold for far less.
The team will look at all the evidence which has been gathered, the testimonies which have already been given about the case as well as taking new testimonies, Angelides said. He added that the legal services would be updated regarding the case’s progress.
Daily Alithia claimed the criminal case would centre on testimony given last week by businessman Charalambos Liotatis that AKEL MP Nicos Katsourides and CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis had allegedly taken bribes.
He claimed the bribes were divided into €1m earmarked for Katsourides, another €1m for Kittis, an unspecified sum that would go to AKEL, and €500,000 to the two big unions.
Responding to the allegations on Saturday, Katsourides said they were groundless, and he threatened to take legal action. Kittis said the case was “rigged”, and rejected allegations of him taking bribes, saying they were “blatantly false”.
Asked whether the investigation would be aimed at specific people, the police spokesman told state radio that the aim of the case was to discover whether a crime had been committed.
Newly appointed deputy attorney-general, Rikkos Erotokritou told Proto radio station on Friday that the legal services ordered the police to begin a criminal investigation. This followed Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos’ request to the Cabinet that the legal services look into the matter.
The legal services suggested the case to the Attorney-general who immediately gave orders to the chief of police to begin the criminal investigation, Erotokritou said.
He clarified that instructions on the case did not refer to specific people, but it was the police’s duty to find out who was involved by using the evidence already gathered by the committee which was assigned to the case earlier this month.
Hasikos earlier this week rubbished as “nonsense” claims that his family were somehow connected to the deal and vowed to stamp out corruption as long as he was in office.
Opposition AKEL on Monday suggested his father-in-law was implicated in the affair. They further accused the government of leaking testimony given to the committee appointed last month by the cabinet as part of a wider effort to divert attention from banking scandals and efforts to privatise semi-government organisations.