Cyprus Mail

Four to go to trial in land deal

Larnaca district court

By Elias Hazou

LARNACA district court yesterday referred to criminal trial four suspects in connection to a multi-million land transaction involving the pension fund of telecoms utility CyTA.

The suspects face 19 charges in total, primarily conspiracy to defraud, corruption, engaging in fraudulent transactions on real estate property belonging to a third person, corrupting a public functionary, bribery and legitimising ill-gotten gains.

They are: businessman Nicos Lillis, 42, a shareholder of Wadnic Trading Ltd and chairman of Alki football club; Costas Miamiliotis, 53, a police sergeant serving in the secret service; Lefteris Mouskou, 40, also a police sergeant with the secret service; and the company Wadnic Trading Ltd as a legal entity.

A criminal court will begin hearing the case in Larnaca on October 2.

Lilli, Miamiliotis and Mouskou have been released pending their trial, each posting a €20,000 bail. The district court ordered the three to hand in their passports and travel documents, and their names have been placed on a stop list.

The two officers – already suspended from duty – are suspected of conspiring to draft a false report that enabled the sale of the land, which belonged to a Turkish Cypriot.

The officers allegedly produced a report saying the Turkish Cypriot seller had resided in the government-controlled areas for six months – a necessary condition — prior to selling the land.

Lilli is suspected of bribing the two officers to draft a favourable report so that his company – Wadnic Trading – could purchase the land.

Detectives have traced two cheques made out to the officers by Lillis: one made out to Miamiliotis for €40,000, the other to Mouskou for €10,000.

According to the charges, Miamiliotis drew up a report falsely affirming that the Turkish Cypriot seller was a resident in the south; and Mouskou is suspected of turning a blind eye (dereliction of duty).

Earlier, both sergeants admitted to receiving the money, but claimed the transactions were linked neither to their capacity as officers nor to the Dromolaxia land deal. The court dismissed their claims as they could not be verified.

The ministry of justice has said that more arrests are imminent.

More than 40 prosecution witnesses are expected to be summoned to testify at the criminal trial. They include current deputy chief of police Andreas Kyriacou, who at one point during the time in question headed the secret service, and Vassos Georgiou, former director of the Office of the President (during the prior administration of Demetris Christofias).

The star witness is businessman Charalambos Liotatis, connected to Wadnic Trading Ltd, the company which bought the land plot in 2007.

It was Liotatis’ allegations before an ongoing panel of inquiry that led authorities to initiate a criminal investigation.

The land in Dromolaxia, Larnaca, was sold to Lillis’ Wadnic Trading. The company then allegedly changed the land’s terms of use, upgraded the coefficients, built on it and sold it on to the CyTA pension fund, at several times the price it was purchased from the original owner.

Liotatis has also alleged that kickbacks were given to an MP and a senior CyTA official to grease the deal.

The inquiry and subsequent criminal probe has had political blowback, with CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis tendering his resignation following pressure from the government. Kittis, who has denied any wrongdoing, says CyTA’s pension fund investment in the land was above board.

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