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Cyprus

Corruption investigation at land registry

Authorities are investigating at least five land registry workers for corruption, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said on Tuesday.

The employees are suspected of carrying out official business for various applicants but pocketing the fees themselves.

“The normal way is for an individual or bank to pay the fee and receive a result. In this case there was a detour and there was a relation between land registry officials with legal entities,” Hasikos said.

The alleged fraud concerned certificates issued by the department to interested, and authorised, parties who pay to find out what property an individual or company have in their name.

Such a search could cost between €50 and €70 if done through the official channel.

These are carried out by banks for example but the cost is usually paid by their customer. Banks usually do bulk searches.

It is understood that the case concerns thousands of applications.

Hasikos did not say whether the suspects charged the official fee or less. But it is understood that one of the motives for clients may have been the speed with which their application was processed.

“What is certain is that they took money,” the minister said.

Hasikos said it was an old story, reported back in 2012.

“At some point it froze and we had no result,” he added. “Our administration revisited the matter and we are seeing with satisfaction that the legal service is investigating.”

Hasikos told reporters to ask the previous administration why nothing incriminating came up two years ago.

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