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Competing land owner in CyTA deal says his plot was cheaper

By Stefanos Evripidou

THE COMPETING land owner in the CyTA pension fund debacle yesterday claimed the land finally bought by the fund was purchased with no development licence and at a much higher price than his alternative proposal.

The sole shareholder and director of New Dimensions Property Development Ltd, Yiannos Constantinou, yesterday testified before the investigative panel, set up last month to look into allegations of corruption and bribery among political figures and senior CyTA officials over the transfer of land in the Larnaca district.

The land in Dromolaxia, near Larnaca airport, was bought from its Turkish Cypriot owner by the Greek Cypriot company Wadnic Trading Ltd for €1,273,770, whereas the land registry – for the purposes of calculating the transfer fees – placed the value at €2,970,000.

After buying the land for less than half its market value, Wadnic sold it on to the CyTA pension fund in 2011, for a sum believed to be €22m, while at certain points in time not yet clear, Wadnic allegedly changed the terms of use, upgraded the coefficients, and began building offices on the land in question.

Allegations have since been made of millions given in bribes to unions, a political party, an MP and a leading CyTA official, while the Central Intelligence Service (KYP) has also been drawn into the debate, with allegations that it issued two conflicting reports on whether the Turkish Cypriot owner was resident in the government-controlled areas long enough to have the right to sell the land.

Speaking to the investigative panel yesterday, Constantinou said his company owns land in Meneou which he offered to CyTA’s pension fund in 2010 for €16,800,000 plus VAT.

A few days after submitting his proposal to CyTA, he was called by a representative of Wadnic who said they were interested in buying his property.

In early January 2011, he read that the pension fund went ahead with an agreement with Wadnic to buy the AERO project in Dromolaxia for €22,400,000, which included the construction of office and showroom space.

“When I read those reports I was surprised because the company had no permits for development and the purchase price was much higher than my proposal,” said Constantinou.

He added that apart from the price differential, the land he had offered for sale had 1,000 square metres more available for building on as well as 2,500 square metres in underground space.

“Furthermore, my project had a planning permit, (land) division permit, and the plans were of a much higher quality than those of Wadnic,” he said.

The New Dimensions Property Development director claimed Wadnic’s land was situated in a residential area (housing zone) while his land in Meneou was included in a special zone for airport offices following an amendment of the Larnaca zoning plan.

He alleged that the telecoms’ pension fund had accepted the valuation of the land it purchased that was prepared by Land Tourist Valuation Ltd on behalf of Wadnic without seeking an independent valuation.

Constantinou argued that Wadnic made €17m profit from the deal.

According to Constantinou, CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis told him that the fund was interested in making a second investment in the area and asked him to submit new plans to build luxury offices, which he did on March 23, 2011. He heard nothing back.

He said he reported the case to House Watchdog Committee Chairman Giorgos Georgiou, as well as the Auditor-general and Interior Minister.

In the third quarter of 2011, the cabinet of the previous government agreed to change the terms of use of the land bought from Wadnic, paving the way for CyTA’s business development project.

Constantinou asked to see the Wadnic file at the Council for the Study on (zoning) Derogations, where he said he discovered that his objection to the change of terms of use was missing from the file.

He filed legal proceedings against the cabinet decision of September 27, 2011. However, he had to drop the case after it transpired that the permit issued by cabinet that month was revoked during the last cabinet meeting of the previous government on February 22, 2013. And in the same final session, cabinet issued a new permit.

Constantinou has now launched new legal proceedings against the latest cabinet decision.

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Source: Cyprus News Agency

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