The people who masterminded the scandal hit waste management contracts, to the detriment of taxpayers, will get what they deserve, Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos asserted on Tuesday.
“Many crooks will get what’s coming to them,” Phedonos told reporters coming out of a three-hour deposition at Nicosia police HQ.
It was the third statement he has given to police concerning the waste management contracts for the Marathounda (Paphos) and Koshi (Larnaca) facilities.
So far 12 people have been charged and are facing trial for corruption and bribery. A police investigation is ongoing.
Phedonos said his latest statement to police concerned new evidence that came this way.
“The whole waste management scam was set up because there was cover from state officials. The scandal did not happen overnight, and when some people carefully read about the interventions, decisions since 2005 and 2006, even before the [waste management] contract was awarded, the signing of the contract and what ensued in the following years, there will be many who won’t be able to sleep at night.”
It’s understood that Phedonos submitted evidence allegedly implicating four senior state officials.
“This scam was not set up by three or four civil servants on the A10 to A11 pay scale, nor by the contractor alone,” he said.
Senior state officials were involved, he reiterated.
“If someone thinks for a moment that a bid of €135m [for the Koshi contract] was rubberstamped while there was an another offer for €79m, and that this scheme was set up by three corrupt civil servants, then you have to be naive and some people must be taking us for a ride.”
He was referring to the €135m offer submitted by Helector, which in 2006 landed the contract for building and operating the waste treatment and management facility at Koshi, which serves the Larnaca and Famagusta districts.
Partly drawing on information supplied by Phedonos, authorities last month launched a criminal probe after it emerged that Helector was reporting higher waste volumes resulting in higher charges for local authorities and consumers.
Earlier, before entering the police HQ, the mayor said the affair – where Helector overcharged as corrupt officials looked the other way and skimmed off the top – can be traced as far back as 2002.
He was referring to ENVIROPLAN SA – also a Greek company thought to have ties to Helector – which won a public contract to act as consultants for the government. The consultants’ task was to provide assistance and technical know-how for the subsequent drafting of the tender documents for the waste management facilities.
It later emerged the tender was tailored to suit Helector’s bid. Among other things, the tender documents were made available only in Greek. ENVIROPLAN also favoured the mechanical biological treatment (MBT) method, and this happened to be the system used by Helector in its waste processing and management projects.
Phedonos has also caused a political storm by alleging that senior state officials in the Tassos Papadopoulos administration (2003-2008) were instrumental in engineering the scheme.
The claims drew an angry reaction from Papadopoulos’ DIKO party.
DIKO spokesperson Christiana Erotokritou on Tuesday again dismissed Phedonos’ allegations as mudslinging, challenging the mayor to name his sources.
“If he is so confident about his infamous ‘source’, which seems to know things that no one else does, about supposed meetings between Tassos Papadopoulos and Georgios Bobolas, let him name the source,” Erotokritou said in a statement.
“Such meetings never took place, and the facts prove it,” the DIKO spokesperson added.
And should Phedonos decline to name his source in public, he should then apologise for smearing the good name of Tassos Papadopoulos, otherwise “he is no better than a base slanderer.”
Over the weekend daily Politis – on the back of statements made by Phedonos – ran a story claiming that the late former President Tassos Papadopoulos and top aides had held three meetings with Greek businessman Georgios Bobolas, in Athens and at Strakka, the Papadopoulos family’s ranch outside Nicosia.
Bobolas is the father of Leonidas Bobolas, CEO of contractors Helector.
Leonidas Bobolas is currently fighting an arrest warrant issued by Cypriot authorities in connection with the investigation.