Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Court postpones remand decision in TEPAK scandal

The 'wasteful' rental agreements for TEPAK buildings to house students and classrooms continued to be scrutinized

By Evie Andreou

FOLLOWING a long cross examination, the Limassol district court postponed to today its decision whether to remand three suspects concerning mismanagement of funds on three buildings rented by the Cyprus University of Technology (TEPAK).

The three, a former director of finance at TEPAK, the head of university’s property management service Zenon Achillides, who is currently on suspension, and another man, aged 40, face nine charges for offences committed between 2005 and 2009. The charges concern three buildings rented by TEPAK for almost €16m.

Police sought an eight-day remand for the two university officials, and a six-day remand for the 40-year-old man.

Meanwhile, a 60-year-old businesswoman, the mother in law of the 40-year-old suspect, was questioned by police on Tuesday in connection to the same case, but was later released for lack of evidence.

The court heard that Achillides and the retired director of finance, deceived TEPAK’s board in connection to the rental contracts of the three buildings, located on Eleftheria street, Saripolos street and Iroon Square.

For the buildings on Eleftheria street and in Iroon square, the two men, the court heard, presented other contracts to the university’s board and later changed provisions in them, without notifying the board.

In the case of the Eleftheria building, even though reportedly the board had approved that any construction alteration costs would be borne by the building’s owner, the new contract provided that the owner was to only pay €400,000, while the remaining €250,000 was to be paid by TEPAK, without the board being notified.

The negotiations on the buildings were being handled by the two men, in the absence of the university’s legal consultant, the court heard.

The building on Saripolos street, which was proposed for rent to the board by the retired official, needed anti earthquake upgrade worth ₤700,000 (€1.19m) which was paid by the university instead of the owner as per the initial contract agreed by the board. The court heard that the building was appropriated three months after the signing of the rent agreement.

The 40-year-old man reportedly signed the contracts of the Eleftheria building on behalf of the owning company.

Achillides and a 51-year-old contractor, Giorgos Hadjigeorgiou, were arrested two months ago in connection with mismanagement of funds concerning other buildings at the university and are to appear before the Limassol Assize court on June 3 for the first hearing on those charges.

The pair face 20 charges including conspiring to commit a felony, forgery, circulating a forged document and obtaining money through false pretences. Both have denied all charges.

The case of misappropriation of funds at TEPAK might even be bigger than the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) scandal, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has said, as the case includes shady contracts for around 60 buildings acquired to accommodate students, with the contracts estimated to be in the millions.

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