By George Psyllides
AKEL’s former financial officer, on trial in connection with a suspicious land deal involving state telecoms company CyTA, reiterated on Thursday that the whole case was a political conspiracy to hurt the party.
Venizelos Zanettos, 67, claimed he had no involvement and queried why investigators had not questioned AKEL MP Nicos Katsourides in connection with the case, stressing however that he was not suggesting he was guilty.
He said Katsourides had been tasked with overseeing CyTA on behalf of AKEL.
Zanettos said it was not possible for cheques to go back and forth between Katsourides’ son Alexandros, and businessman Nicos Lillis – a key figure in the scandal – and investigators not questioning where the money was coming from.
The land deal in question involved the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of office space in Dromolaxia, near Larnaca airport, at a price reportedly several times the going market value.
The land was sold to Wadnic Trading, which upgraded the coefficients, built on it and sold it on to the CyTA pension fund for some €20 million.
Allegations have since surfaced that millions were paid in kickbacks to make the deal possible.
On trial with Zanettos are former CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis, former electricity authority EAC chairman Charalambos Tsouris, a member of the CyTA board at the time, the director of CyTA’s pay-TV 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 offences were committed between 2009 and 2013.
The arrests were made possible after Lillis, a key player in the deal, changed sides and became a prosecution witness.
Back in May, the court heard that Katsourides had given a statement to police on his own initiative.
In his statement, Katsourides said he called the police to clarify certain things claimed by another witness.
Katsourides said he had never spoken on the phone about CyTA with Lillis, and it was never said he would receive one million euros as part of the whole deal.
“Apart from it being a lie, I have said it in public and I repeat, my bank accounts are at the disposal of the police,” Katsourides’ statement said, which was read in court.
The statement was taken at Katsourides’ home on July 19, 2013 but the MP declined to sign it as is normal.
The police officer who took the statement could not explain why the AKEL MP declined to sign the statement.