Cyprus Mail

Remand renewed in Larnaca land dispute case

CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis confirmed yesterday that he will be resigning soon

By Poly Pantelides

LARNACA district court on Wednesday renewed a six-day remand on three men suspected of fraud and bribery in relation to a multi-million land deal involving the semi-governmental telecommunications authority CyTA.

The suspects are two police sergeants, Costas Miamiliotis, 40, and Lefteris Mouskos, 53, members of the secret service and 42-year-old businessman Nicos Lillis.

Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said there could be more arrests as police continue their investigations and take testimonies.

Lillis is a shareholder in Wadnic Trading Ltd, the company which purchased the land in 2007, and also the chairman of Alki football club. He is suspected of bribing the two police officers – already suspended from duty – to draft a false report enabling the sale of the land which had belonged to a Turkish Cypriot.

The alleged report said the Turkish Cypriot seller had resided in the government-controlled areas for six months – a necessary condition – prior to selling the land.

The court heard on Wednesday that detectives have traced two cheques – one for €10,000, the other €40,000 – made out to the two officers by Lillis. Miamiliotis who received the €40,000 sum in November 2011 said Lillis was returning the sum to Miamiliotis’ sister who was intending to buy a Larnaca coastline property.

But the court was told no evidence of a transaction relating to buying such a property could be found through the land registry, while close family members said they knew nothing of a transaction between Miamiliotis’ sister and Lillis. The sister, a permanent US resident as of this July, has not been found yet for questioning.

Mouskos, who got €10,000 in June 2011, told the court that Lillis paid the sum as part of an agreement to buy Mouskos’ family home in Larnaca belonging to Mouskos’ mother. Mouskos claimed that as per the terms of the agreement he was entitled to hold on to the sum. There is no land registry paper trace and investigators did not find a related purchase agreement during searches in Lillis’ office and home, the court heard.

The suspects are being investigated for a number of alleged offences between 2007 and July this year including conspiracy to defraud, engaging in fraudulent transactions on real estate property belonging to a third person, corruption of a public functionary, bribery and legitimising ill-gotten gains.

Meanwhile, police have arrested another former secret service officer they had been looking for, who has been questioned and released because of health problems. The case investigator told the court police are looking into the suspects’ financial goings-on in banks and co-ops, including potentially dodgy transactions relating to Lillis’ companies.

The land in Dromolaxia, Larnaca was sold to a Greek Cypriot businessman who allegedly changed its terms of use, upgraded the coefficients, built on it and sold it on to the CyTA pension fund, at several times the price he bought it from the original owner.

An ongoing panel of inquiry is investigating that land deal with Cabinet deciding on Wednesday to push back its deadline to November 21. The deputy government spokesman said the inquiry needed to expand its mandate to look into other allegations involving purchases of Turkish Cypriot properties and expropriations.

CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis, who has been linked to the allegations but denies them, confirmed he will be stepping down in the coming few weeks. Government spokesman Christos Stylianides said on Tuesday Kittis will be submitting his resignation after finishing the body’s annual report this month.

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