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Cyprus

CyTA land deal suspects to face Criminal Court

Stathis Kittis

Eight people implicated in a suspicious land deal involving the pension fund of state telecoms company CyTA were on Tuesday referred for trial in a criminal court.

They will appear before the Larnaca Criminal Court on March 7 to be formally charged in connection with the purchase of property near Larnaca airport, allegedly paying millions above its value.

The suspects are former CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis, former chairman of the electricity authority EAC Charalambos Tsouris, a member of the CyTA board at the time, main opposition party AKEL officials Christos Alecou and Venizelos Zanettou, the director of CyTA’s television arm and SEK union rep Orestis Vasilliou, CyTA employee Yiannis Souroullas and his brother Gregoris who works at the land registry, and businessman Antonis Ioakim, a shareholder in Wadnic, the company involved in the €20.5 million deal.

The eight face 33 charges, including conspiracy to commit felony, fraud, theft, bribery, abuse of power, and money laundering.

The offences were committed between 2009 and 2013.

They were released on a €100,000 bail each after surrendering their travel documents.

Their names were placed on a list of people banned from leaving the country.

The land deal in question involved the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of office space in Dromolaxia at a price reportedly several times the going market value.

Allegations have since surfaced that millions were paid in kickbacks to make the deal possible.

Prosecutors have already charged businessman Nicos Lillis, the owner of Wadnic, and two police officers, Costas Miamiliotis and Lefteris Mouskou, in connection with the case.

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

An independent committee that investigated the case concluded that all those involved in a land basically facilitated a company of dubious financial standing, and recommended that police investigations must be extended to include the individuals named in the case.

The findings slammed the administrators of the pension fund, headed by Kittis, as being indifferent and negligent, and did not rule out “the existence of ulterior motives if not corruption.”

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