Cyprus Mail

AG to probe alleged fraud by contractor and architect

The new THOC theatre

By Constantinos Psillides

THE case of suspected conspiracy between a contractor and an architect commissioned to build a government building, in which they appear to have sneaked a payment of €500,000 to build the architect’s home, is headed to the Attorney-general’s office.

Daily Politis reported on Friday that Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides sent an urgent letter to the office of AG Costas Clerides, detailing his findings.

Michaelides stated on Thursday that the Audit Service’s investigation has revealed attempted cover-ups of construction flaws and the authorisation of unjustified payments.

The Auditor-general had claimed that the contractor was also commissioned to build the architect’s home for no fee. He specified that the government complex that the two were commissioned to build was worth tens of millions of euros.

Politis went a step further, revealing that the project in question is the new Cyprus Theatre Organisation building, opposite the Finance ministry in Nicosia, that the contractor is Miltiades Neophytou and the architect’s firm is Kythreotis Architects.

Kythreotis was not available for comment.

An high ranking official from the Miltiades Neophytou firm told the Cyprus Mail that that the company had done everything “by the book”, both in the case of the theatre contract and the architect’s house.

It was reported that the architect authorised a payment for the sum of €500,000 from the government project’s budget, for which insufficient justification has been found, at roughly the same period when the contractor had undertaken to build the architect’s home.

The contract governing the project apparently allowed the architect such authorisation rights, in contrast with other government contracts in which the release of funds would also require a sign-off from the project’s quantity surveyor.

The Audit Service also found that, during the same period, the contractor filed for the return of VAT paid on the construction of the architect’s house, but no proof of payment from the owner of the house, meaning the architect, could be furnished.

And when the contractor was asked to explain the incident, he claimed that in lieu of payment for the construction of the house, the architect had transferred building coefficients of commensurate value from a “preserved” building he owned, to his construction company.

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