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Road transport boss looks set to face criminal charges

ROAD Transport Department boss Sotiris Kolettas, suspended in January pending investigation into alleged wrongdoing, looks set to face criminal charges over a number of incidents probed by the Attorney General’s office, daily Politis reported on Tuesday.

According to the paper, investigation by authorities has revealed sufficient evidence of criminal offences on three separate counts.

The first case relates to the purchase of a beach house by Kolettas in Protaras, Famagusta. The house – initially listed at a selling price of €290,000 – was bought in 2011 for €200,000, when similar properties in the same complex were sold at a price over 50 per cent higher – €310,000.

The seller, a development company, appears to be partially owned by a holding company run and co-owned by Xenophon Andreotis, who is also the director of the intercity bus company and a major shareholder and board member of the Famagusta District Transport Organisation (OSEA).

A further incriminating factor in this case is a testimony that the money for the house transaction was not paid into the development company’s account but to that of the holding company that co-owns it. Despite both Kolettas’ and Andreotis’ denials, Politis reported that investigators have found cheques that corroborate the claim.

A second case relates to the origin of funds used by Kolettas to buy a plot of land in Dali, Nicosia for €250,000. Reports said that Kolettas failed to provide convincing explanations on the source of the money, claiming he borrowed it from a person with whom he had dealings in the past relating to the construction of a block of flats in Nicosia.

The third suspicious incident relates to a separate case that involved a car dealership importing used cars of a specific brand and registering them as brand new, and then forwarding them to Great Britain for sale at a price slightly lower than that offered by the local importer. Politis cited a police source that said “it cannot be considered a coincidence that Kolettas and his close family owned cars of this particular brand, which were imported by the company under investigation.”

Meanwhile, a disciplinary investigation by the Communications Ministry over, among other issues, Kolettas’ refusal to impose a fine on the intercity bus company despite the minister’s explicit instructions to do so, has been undertaken by Treasurer Rea Georgiou. In light of the need for further investigation, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has decided to extend Kolettas’ initial two-month suspension, imposed in January.

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