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Kickback claims ‘baseless’ Kittis tells court

Former CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis

By Angelos Anastasiou

FORMER CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis, one of the accused in the ‘Dromolaxia scandal’, in which a plot of land was bought illegally from its Turkish Cypriot owner and developed using money from the semi-state telecoms company CyTA’s employee pension fund in exchange for kickbacks, testified before the Larnaca Assize court on Monday.

Kittis denied having received kickbacks from Nikos Lillis, who had undertaken developing the plot into the ‘Aero’ office complex. Lillis, the key witness for the prosecution, claimed to have paid Kittis €300,000 in return for his help in approving the investment from the semi-state’s employee pension fund. Kittis said this claim was “baseless, non-existent, unfounded and unfair.”

He also denied having conspired with Lillis and former CyTA board member Charalambos Tsouris, also accused for his role in the scandal, to overprice the project so that more money could be withdrawn from the pension fund and poured into the ‘investment’.

Explaining the origin of a cheque for €90,000, which the prosecution argued was part of the kickbacks he received, Kittis claimed the money represented the partial return of a €100,000 payment made to his law office by Lillis as part of a purchase deal with a company Kittis ran.

“When Lillis withdrew from the deal, €90,000 was returned to him and the rest was kept by the law office as collateral, as agreed,” Kittis claimed.

He also addressed two instances in which he had been handed envelopes by Lillis, saying that both were related to Lillis’ capacity as then-president of Alki football club, and neither instance involved any illegality.

“Nikos Lillis asked me to mediate so that Alki was handed a grant from [CyTA’s pay-TV arm] Cytavision because the club suffered payment delays in its deal with [privately owned subscription-based television channel] LTV,” Kittis claimed.

Kittis said that the first meeting between the two men took place by chance at the Larnaca District court, and Lillis asked him to meet at his office. At the meeting, he said, Lillis handed Kittis a file containing Alki’s financials, which Kittis forwarded to Cytavision’s head.

According to Kittis, the second meeting took place in Nicosia following a fruitless mediation attempt with LTV, and Lillis told Kittis that he had reached agreement with a British team for its youth divisions to train in Alki’s training grounds. In corroboration of his claims, Lillis handed Kittis a jersey bearing the British team’s logo.

Kittis, Tsouris and five others – AKEL official Venizelos Zanettou, director of CyTA’s pay-TV arm, 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 Lillis’ company Wadnic – are being tried separately by the Larnaca Criminal Court in connection with the case.

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