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Cyprus

‘Political party received half a million in CyTA land deal’

The committee investigating the CyTA land sale

By Peter Stevenson

ONE OF the island’s political parties allegedly received half a million from the sale of a plot of land in Dromolaxia-Meneou, near Larnaca airport, businessman Charalambos Liotatis told an investigative panel yesterday.

Liotatis, who claimed that he had lent over €1m to the company that had bought the land, continued his testimony and handed over a number of documents and receipts yesterday.

The land in Dromolaxia, Larnaca, was sold to the Greek Cypriot company Wadnic Trading Ltd. which allegedly changed the terms of use, upgraded the coefficients, built on it and sold it on to the CyTA pension fund in 2011, at several times the price they bought it from the Turkish Cypriot original owner.

Allegations have since been made of millions given in bribes to unions, a political party, an MP and a CyTA official.

During his testimony, Liotatis handed over as evidence, copies of transfers between his bank account and that of a businessman – who was acting on behalf of Wadnic – and the cashier’s cheques and cash he and his assistant Yiannis Ioannou had handed over.

Liotatis began by telling the panel about how he first met Turkish Cypriot Mustafa Mehmet Mustafa, which happened after the Green Line was opened. They had met when Liotatis attempted to visit his house in the closed-off area of Famagusta.

Mustafa asked for Liotatis’ help to sell the land as he had been approached by businessmen and he did not want to be conned.

Liotatis said that after the land was sold, he was approached by the same businessman who was working on behalf of Wadnic, who asked him to invest in the proposed project. He told the panel that despite having reservations he was convinced by the man’s apparent government connections.

Liotatis said that originally the development was going to take place in cooperation with Cyprus Airways but when it appeared they were going bankrupt the businessman turned his attentions to CyTA.

He alleged that an MP from the political party implicated in the deal was controlling the businessman’s movements, and added that on December 12, 2009 he gave a cheque of €30,000 to the businessman which he claims was then handed over to the political party – €25,000 in cash and a €5,000 cheque.

During the next two years Liotatis claimed to have given over a large amount of money to both a Larnaca football club and to the businessman.

The panel also heard from Liotatis that then Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis was completely informed about the matter and made it clear he was not going to sign to transfer all of the land and would leave the rest for a later date.

From the money the land was purchased for, Liotatis told the panel he received €600,000. He alleged that the businessman received €500,000 so that the Larnaca- based football club’s players could get paid, the MPs son received five €10,000 cheques, he claimed, and a €500,000 cheque went to the political party.

He added that €1m went to the MP, and €1m in total went to the CyTA’s official, and the political party,” he said.

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