Cyprus Mail

Greek businessman, wanted for waste scam connection, arrested and released

Leonidas Bobolas

Greek construction mogul Leonidas Bobolas, wanted by police here in connection with an ongoing corruption investigation into waste management contracts, was on Wednesday arrested and then released in Athens.
Bobolas, for whom a European arrest warrant had been issued, turned up at an Athens police station and was arrested. On Wednesday he appeared before a magistrate, where his attorneys argued that some of the alleged offences attributed to Bobolas took place in Greece, and therefore Cypriot courts did not have jurisdiction.
As per procedure, the magistrate ordered Bobolas released on his own recognizance, but ordered that his name be placed on a stop-list.
Greek judicial authorities will decide within 60 days whether Bobolas is to be extradited to Cyprus.
Earlier reports said the businessman’s attorneys had been in contact with Cypriot authorities. They reportedly indicated their client’s intention to cooperate, but on condition that Bobolas would turn witness for the prosecution.
But on Tuesday, Attorney-general Costas Clerides appeared to rule out the prospect of such a deal.
Also arrested on Wednesday was Theofanis Lolos, director of ENVIROPLANT, a firm assigned by the interior ministry to oversee the waste management projects in Marathounda, Paphos and Koshi, Larnaca.
Lolos, also sought on the strength of a European arrest warrant, was placed under arrest at Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos airport, as he prepared to board a flight to Cyprus.
But in a statement released later in the day, Lolos’ designated lawyer Christos Triantafyllides claimed Cypriot authorities reneged on an agreement not to arrest his client on the European arrest warrant.
According to Triantafyllides, on Tuesday evening he and Cypriot police as well as the attorney-general’s office arrived at an ‘express’ understanding that Lolos would not be arrested as he had indicated his intention to come to Cyprus of his own free will.
Even Lolos’ precise flight details were given to authorities, the lawyer said.
“Unfortunately,” he went on to say, “the above were not implemented as the relevant authorities of the Republic of Cyprus did not keep their side of the bargain.”
So far 11 persons are in custody in Cyprus over the affair, including Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis.
Police are expected to file a criminal case in a Paphos court on Thursday. The attorney-general’s office was on Wednesday deciding how the case would be prosecuted and which persons would be turned state’s witness.
According to the police, the case involves suspected backhanders to interior ministry and municipal officials, mostly in Paphos but also Larnaca, for going along with a scheme where Helector – the operator of the landfills at Marathounda and Koshi – would overcharge by reporting inflated waste volumes.
During an earlier remand hearing, Paphos district court heard that police had located 40 fake invoices at the offices of Helector for sums totalling €200,000 and given as kickbacks to former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas and to Demetris Patsalides, chief financial officer of Paphos municipality.
However it is thought the bribes to various officials could run in the millions since Helector first landed the waste management contracts.
Helector is a subsidiary of Ellaktor SA, a multinational Greek construction group.
Bobolas, who has a 15 per cent stake in the parent company, is also CEO of Helector.
In April 2015 the businessman – publisher of two newspapers in Greece and a stakeholder in the Mega television channel – was arrested in Greece on tax evasion charges.
His name featured in the so-called Lagarde list, a spreadsheet containing roughly 2,000 potential tax evaders with undeclared accounts at Swiss HSBC bank’s Geneva branch.
Bobolas was not indicted for tax evasion, having agreed to pay back some €1.8 million.

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