Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Truck needed to transport suspect sewerage files

Auditor general Odysseas Michaelides

By George Psyllides
The island’s auditor-general on Tuesday used a truck to carry hundreds of files from Paphos’ sewerage board as part of a probe into the construction of the first phase of the system.
Odysseas Michaelides is also collecting dozens of files concerning the town’s seafront project to examine whether taxpayer money had been wasted.
The probe, which is separate from any police investigation, will focus on the construction of the first phase of the sewerage system, which was completed in 2003 at a cost 25 per cent higher than the estimated €43 million.
Regarding the seafront project, the auditor-general found that the municipality overpaid the contractor by a total of €656,443.
The auditor wrote to the municipality suggesting it had not acted to secure its interests during the project.
The auditor also found that management and co-ordination had been inadequate, resulting in changes and additional work without the municipality’s approval.
“We asked the mayor to inform us of the ways he intended to recoup the amount. To date, we have not received a response from the mayor of Paphos,” the auditor said in his report.
Michaelides was referring to former mayor Savvas Vergas who has since quit his post under the pressure of a corruption scandal linked to the town’s sewerage board, which he chaired.
Vergas is currently in custody, along with the board’s director, Eftihios Malekkides, both suspected of receiving hundreds of thousands in kickbacks and bribes.
The sewerage project – the second phase – that Vergas and Malekkides were handling was estimated to cost €78 million but taxpayers have so far paid €109 million, with contractors claiming around €25 million more.
In his statement to police, Vergas implicated two Paphos MPs, Andreas Fakontis of AKEL and EDEK’s Phidias Sarikas, who have strongly denied the allegations and expressed readiness to open their bank accounts.
The fact that the names leaked however, irked AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou, who wrote a protest letter to the attorney-general.
Kyprianou said it was obvious that leaking such information to the media aimed at disgracing certain individuals but also it turned attention away from the essence of the ongoing probe.
“We think that the leak should be the object of a criminal investigation to shed light on who leaked the information in question and what was the purpose,” Kyprianou said.

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