THE CHAIRMAN of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) wrapped up his defence yesterday of a 2011 pension fund investment, which is under investigation by a panel looking into allegations that millions were given in bribes.
Stathis Kittis, who is also the head of the pension fund management committee, appeared before the panel for the third time, renewing his defence of the CyTA pension fund’s actions as legitimate and sound.
The land in Dromolaxia, next to Larnaca airport was bought in 2007 from its Turkish Cypriot owner by the Greek Cypriot company Wadnic Trading Ltd. It was purchased at €1,273,770 but was valued at more than double this – €2,970,000 – by the land registry when calculating the transfer fees.
The project – to be used for renting out offices to businesses wanting to be close to the airport – is due to be completed in by the end of this year or beginning of 2014, Kittis said.
Kittis said that CyTA – by paying the contractor directly – had avoided unnecessary delays and was able to keep to the deadline. No contracts have been signed by any companies interested in renting out office space, but Kittis said he hoped this would happen soon.
Up until June 28 this year, the pension fund had paid out €14 million, with a further €5.2 million pending. A total of €1.7 million would be payable to the contractor on delivery of the project.
Allegations have surfaced that millions of euros had been given to grease the deal, intimating corruption across the spectrum, from within CyTA itself, to an MP, a political party and unions. “I have had no special involvement with this case and at any rate I could not influence in any way final decisions that were taken collectively…,” Kittis said yesterday, adding that several experts, CyTA officials and stakeholders were involved in cinching the deal.
The CyTA chairman said that he did know Wadnic shareholder Nicos Lillis who is chairman of Larnaca football club Alki, just as he knew other football club players CyTA sponsored. In that context, he had also socially interacted with businessman Charalambos Liotatis, Kittis said. Liotatis had previously told the inquiry that he had lent Wadnic Trading over a €1.0 million for what he was told would be a profitable investment. Liotatis knew the seller who had been employed by his wife and himself for a number of years, he said. Liotatis has implicated an MP and a senior CyTA official, whom Wadnic allegedly greased to the tune of €1.0 million each, as well as two major unions that allegedly were to receive €500,000 to get the deal through. Wadnic has denied all claims.
Kittis said he was insulted by the slurs in relation to the deal, and denied ever personally profiting from the investment.