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Cyprus

Attempts being made to recover bribery pay offs

By George Psyllides

Authorities are trying to recover several millions of euros paid to contractors involved in the construction of the Paphos sewerage system, the source of a major corruption scandal that has so far seen the town’s mayor and another senior official jailed.

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said Paphos authorities were trying to recover several millions that were paid to contractors when they shouldn’t have.

Around €1.3 million concerned operational costs of the treatment plant – now in public hands.

“Our service said from the start that the amount was not justified and the contractor should pay penalties for big delays,” Michaelides said.

He said authorities were also looking at other contracts, mainly from the second phase of the project. This also involved poor workmanship, which should have deducted from the money paid to contractors.

In February, Michaelides told the House Watchdog Committee that corruption within the Paphos municipality was a long “party” that went on for 10 or 15 years.

In February, the Criminal Court jailed former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas and former sewerage board head, Eftychios Malekides, for six years for corruption, offences committed during the construction of the town’s sewerage system between 1999 and 2014.

Vergas admitted to receiving €520,000 in bribes and Malekides pleaded guilty to receiving €498,000.

Both have returned immovable property and cash in a bid for leniency.

The pair had been receiving kickbacks from construction companies in return for contracts.

Five others, including EDEK MP and former mayor Fidias Sarikas, have been charged in connection with the same case.

The others are AKEL municipal councillor Giorgos Shailis, former DISY councillor Giorgos Michaelides, former DIKO councillor Eftathtios Efstathiou, and former AKEL councillor Vasos Vassiliou.

 

 

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