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Cyprus

Potamia community leader ‘kept money for the needy’

By Andria Kades

The community council leader of Potamia, in the Nicosia district, has been asked to refrain from his duties following his release from police detention in connection to a series of alleged misappropriations including cashing out cheques for himself that were meant to go to poor families, and receiving a secretarial wage in addition to his salary.

On Wednesday, Interior Minister Socrates Hasikos sent a letter to Panayiotis Yiatrou asking him to abstain from his duties even when his six-day remand – in place since Tuesday – was over.

“I am sorry to see that (the charges) are connected directly or indirectly with your position, your duties and your responsibilities.”

Yiatrou is being investigated for charges including bribery, stealing, fraud and forgery.

He has been accused, according to daily Politis of receiving €1,200 annually, for years on end for ‘secretarial duties’ and assigning works without adhering to the legal tender process.

Investigating the minutes of meetings and warrants of payment, officials reportedly found that in all 22 cases where any works were assigned, the tender process was not adhered to and the total cost of the project was split into different amounts.

Three of the companies that bid for the projects told police the application submitted on their behalf was fake.

A major part of the investigation is looking into companies that for the past two years issued a total of 33 cheques to help families in need. Nine of them were written to a union that Yiatrou is a leader of, the court heard.

“It seems the cheques were paid into the union’s account while one of them bears the suspects signature and seems to have been cashed by him. Four cheques were written to a Potamia sports club the suspect is a secretary of and were cashed in an account that is not clear who it belongs to” the case investigator said.

Another five cheques totalling €13,000 were written to his name – with the money intended to go to needy families, three of which were cashed out and two deposited in personal bank accounts of his at a Nicosia Co-op branch and Hellenic Bank.

 



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