By Constantinos Psillides
AUDITOR General Odysseas Michaelides has his sights set on the Nicosia Sewage Board, telling CyBC radio that he had already requested their contracts and correspondence to review past settlement cases.
Michaelides’ report to the Attorney General on the suspect dealings of the Paphos Sewage Board led to the arrest of the town’s mayor Savvas Vergas, former municipal councillor Giorgos Michaelides and the board’s manager Eftihios Malekkides on suspicion of corruption. The trio are suspected of receiving bribes to allow for a sewage construction project to go almost €40 million over budget.
Michaelides says that the Nicosia board was next on the chopping block.
“We will be looking at settlements between the board and the contractors. We are looking for any suspicious dealings, meaning any projects that ended up costing far more than the initial estimate, with no adequate excuse as to why the state had to cough up the extra money,” said the Auditor General.
Meanwhile in the Paphos case, both Malekides and Vergas continue to refuse to cooperate with authorities. All three suspects were taken in for questioning again yesterday but the two refuse to talk to investigators. The third suspect, Giorgos Michaelides, repeated to investigators that he had never received any bribe and rejected a claim by one of the contractors, who said that his business partner gave Malekides an envelope with €50,000 in cash at the former councillor’s request.
The contractor said that he had confronted Malekides on the phone and asked him whether he got the money, to which he said the former councillor said “yes I got it.”
Christos Drakopoulos, the Greek national who owns the company that was awarded a tender for a waste management plant, will shed more light on the case, according to police spokesperson Andreas Angelides. Drakopoulos is believed to be abroad and an international warrant is expected to be issued for his arrest.
One of the witnesses in the case, a high-ranking official with the sewage board told authorities that he witnessed Drakopoulos handing over nylon bags filled with 75,000 CYP in stacks to Malekides and Vergas, before he stepped into the latter’s office.
When asked whether the police planned on arresting more people, Angelides said it could not be ruled out, adding that it would depend on the investigation.
“This is a complicated case which took investigators a considerable amount of time to put together. I cannot confirm whether more arrests would be made rest assured that the investigation is well on its way,” said Angelides.
The witness told authorities that he saw two other municipal councillors joining Vergas and Malekides when Drakopoulos allegedly gave them the nylon bags filled with money.