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Contractor ‘found himself in a situation of extortion’ during SAPA works

Paphos SAPA works

LOIZOS Iordanous, owner of Loizos Iordanous Construction, took the witness stand at the Paphos Criminal Court on Thursday, where the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) trial resumed, and said he only paid kickbacks to former SAPA director Eftichios Malekides and former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas.

Vergas and Malekides are serving a six-year jail term each after confessing to taking bribes from SAPA contractors, while former Paphos mayor – and sitting MP – Fidias Sarikas and former Paphos municipal councillors Giorgos Michaelides, Efstathios Efstathiou, and Vasos Vasiliou, as well as sitting councillor Giorgos Shailis, are facing charges of corruption, taking bribes, and money-laundering.

The company, Iordanous testified, bid for a contract for a SAPA project worth almost €25 million in 2008 as a joint venture with Alexandrou Constructions, which it won.

On two occasions, he recalled, Malekides visited him and received €100,000 each time, which he claimed he was to share with Vergas and Vasiliou.

While the project had been progressing as normal up to that point, Iordanous said, he found himself “in a situation of extortion and necessity”, and thus accepted to pay the bribes.

The kickbacks, he explained, helped him secure the contract, and then not keep it running smoothly.

Iordanous claimed he was told by Vergas once that Malekides had not split the money evenly among them, and had taken more money than Vergas.

Malekides, he said, visited him often to ask for money.

And when, in 2014, problems came up with the project and Iordanous Constructions appealed to the relevant government arbitration body, resulting in a compromise out-of-court settlement of €3 million for the company, Malekides showed up again, asking for money.

On another occasion, Vergas asked Iordanous for €5,000 in favour of AEP football club, which the businessman duly coughed up.

In addition, when Iordanous had a fallout with his partner in the joint venture, Vergas asked for money to make sure the company could continue the project on its own.

Other than the money he gave Malekides, he did not pay anyone else, the witness said.

He certainly made various donations to political parties and football clubs, but these have nothing to do with SAPA, he added.

Iordanous also described a meeting between Athens university professor Giorgos Bafas, who represented German company Awatech, Sarikas, Malekides, and deceased former Paphos municipal councillor Andreas Omirou, in which he said that all attendees asked Bafas for money to support the company’s bid for a SAPA project.

However, Iordanous said he could not remember how much money each had asked for, nor could he confirm whether Bafas actually gave them any.

In response to a question by the prosecution, Iordanous identified defendant Michaelides, and noted that he was one of the first people he met when he came to Paphos, with whom he remains friendly.

Michaelides, Iordanous said, asked him for money at some point, which he later returned.

The witness confirmed a meeting between Vergas, Malekides, and Michaelides, did take place at a restaurant in Analyontas, but claimed it was merely a social arrangement where no SAPA issues had been discussed.

 

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