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Ergates village council being investigated for mishandling funds

By Constantinos Psillides

An investigation into the mishandling of funds by the Ergates village council is nearly complete, police spokesman Andreas Angelides told the Sunday Mail.

Police are looking into the dealings of the community council over the 2002-2011 period, when – according to the police – they seem to have mismanaged funds, including awarding contracts to relatives without following proper procedure, dumping garbage in areas around the village and acquiring services from companies owned by council members.

The council is also under investigation for throwing lavish parties for friends and relatives and buying expensive jewellery as gifts, according to the police.

In a coordinated raid two weeks ago in the houses of 12 of the council members police seized a large number of these “gifts”, which included gold crosses and necklaces and some silver decorative ships.

The community council members are under investigation for conspiring to defraud, dereliction of duty, negligence and violating the law on awarding public tenders.

Angelides said the police have all the evidence they need to complete the investigation successfully.

“I don’t know if any one of them will be arrested in the future. That is up to Legal Services. Once our investigation is complete and the report submitted, they will decide what will happen next,” Angelides said.

The case came to light after the current council took office and contacted Auditor General Chrystalla Georghadji to report a number of suspicious dealings authorised by the previous council.

The Auditor-General drafted a lengthy report, which was handed over to the police three weeks ago.

The report is quite scathing. According to the Auditor-General, over the nine-year period the contract for collecting the community’s waste was awarded to a contractor closely related to the wife of the community leader.

The contractor – reads the report – was awarded the contract without first going through a tender process, while the community leader didn’t extricate himself from the decision process as he was legally required to do.

The report also points out that the contractor doesn’t have a waste management licence.

The community’s waste appears to have been dumped in areas near the village and not the Kotsiatis landfill, as per the contract. The report noted that on two separate occasions he was caught by authorities dumping garbage in unauthorised areas.

According to a report submitted by the Nicosia District Office, removing the garbage around the village will cost the state €1.5 million.

For three years – 2008 to 2011 – the Auditor General’s report notes that the contractor was paid €96,680 without issuing receipts or invoices.

The community council is also suspected of acquiring goods and services from companies owned by the community leader and other members of the council and employing an undocumented immigrant.

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