Cyprus Mail

Helector boss’s remand extended

HELECTOR boss Ioannis Kokotsis, who had been arrested and remanded for eight days in connection with overcharging allegations at the Marathounda, Paphos, and Koshi, Larnaca, waste-management plants, was remanded for a further five days on Friday.

The Greek company’s director is thought to have been involved in a conspiracy to declare excessive quantities of waste at the plants, which serve the districts of Paphos, Larnaca and Famagusta, for which a number of civil servants have also been arrested.

Lead investigator Yiannos Constantinou told the court that intensive police investigations are ongoing.

In order to conclude investigations, some 30 additional statements need to be taken, while two additional investigations are required, the court heard.

Presiding judge Costas Constantinou said the police’s request was granted so that “investigations can be facilitated”.

He added that the investigators’ suspicions are reasonable, and that Kokotsis appeared to have confessed to committing the crimes and named others involved.

The judge said that more investigative work is required, and noted that releasing the suspect could undermine investigations through the influencing of witnesses or the destruction of evidence.

But Kokotsis’ positive stance was also noted by the judge, especially after he did not object to his renewed remand.

In his statement to the police, Kokotsis confessed to having paid some €1.5m in kickbacks to local government and Interior ministry officials since 2010, so that they would turn a blind eye to his company’s overcharging municipalities.

Kokotsis said he took over as head of Helector from Demetris Giannakopoulos, who had already set up the network.

In his statement, Kokotsis gave extensive details of the chain of events at both facilities.

He added that he found himself in an extortionate predicament by all involved in Paphos and Larnaca, resulting in his having to pay kickbacks for his business to go on.

According to police, Kokotsis also gave evidence of kickbacks received by various officials, while more arrests may be necessary following the expected statement by Giannakopoulos.

It is estimated that the company has made as much as €40m from overcharging over its 15 years in Cyprus.

Warrants for the arrest of nine people have been issued thus far in connection with the case, with eight already remanded. The ninth is former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas, currently serving a six-year jail term for his involvement in the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) scandal.

Three more warrants are pending in connection to the case, for the arrest of Giannakopoulos, a Greek national living in Romania, Imar Bakler, a Jordanian civil engineer employed by Helector, and the company’s executive director Athanasios Katris, who lives in Athens.

Police said that preliminary work is being done with the three men’s lawyers, so that they appear before Cypriot authorities in the coming days.

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