Cyprus Mail
Crime

Alleged 25,000 bribe ended up in AKEL coffers (Updated)

AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou

The 25,000 euros allegedly given by Greek businessman to convicted AKEL member Venizelos Zanettos through a middle man as part of a suspected bribery network in the waste management scandal, ended up in AKEL coffers as a donation, party leader Andros Kyprianou said on Sunday.

In a statement at the end of an extraordinary assembly of the party’s youth wing EDON, Kyprianou, when asked about Zanettos’ arrest and questioning on Saturday, and his subsequent return to the central prisons, said it was not his job to be involved in ongoing investigations.

“From what I understand from reading various reports, it seems that Venizelos was accused because he got 25,000 euros as a donation,” said Kyprianou.

Asked whether AKEL took ownership of the 25,000, Kyprianou said he did not have more details because it is not a daily preoccupation to know where various donations to the party were coming from.

“If we follow the logic that whoever takes a donation for his party is guilty of an offence, I think in that case all of the members of the political parties should be rounded up,” said Kyprianou.

The law, he said, allowed for donations to political parties. “I want to see what was the alleged irregularity in this case,” he said, adding that the party would wait patiently for the outcome of the investigations.

Police on Saturday arrested two more people in connection with ongoing investigations into the waste management corruption scandal.

The developments came as key suspect in the case, Theofanis Lolos, director of Greek company Enviroplan gave a lengthy statement to police, which began on Friday after he was brought to Cyprus Thursday night on a European arrest warrant.

Lolos, 49, was remanded for four days on Friday in connection to the Marathounda, Paphos and Koshi, Larnaca waste management scandals.

Although he is cooperating with authorities he is denying any involvement in the case.

In the wake of his testimony police on Sunday said they had arrested two people, one aged 69 and one aged 80. The 69-year-old they said in a statement, was brought from the central prisons for questioning and sent back. The second man was also questioned, they said. They did not name the two suspects.

The former was AKEL member, Zanettos who was last year sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after he was found guilty of extorting money from businessman Nikos Lillis in the Dromolaxia land scandal. AKEL maintains his innocence.

The second man, the 80-year-old who AKEL late on Saturday clarified was not a party member as had been reported earlier in the day, was allegedly a middle man to whom Lolos gave the 25,000 euros as an alleged bribe to pass to Zanettos.

Enviroplan is accused of helping corrupt interior ministry officials of drafting a tender for the waste management contract tailor made for another Greek company Helector, which is at the centre of the scandal.

Kyprianou, referring to officials from the interior ministry who have been arrested in connection with the case, said these officials had been moved from their positions by former minister Neoclis Sylikiotis who suspected that “something was not right” at the time.

“If AKEL took bribes to help Mr Lolos why would these transfers have taken place,” he said.

“I want to remind you that we had information from Greece that something was going on but when I said so, I was taunted. Our information was given to us at the meeting we had with the Greek Prime Minister and anyone can investigate whether this is true or no,” he added.

CyBC reported on Sunday that Lolos’ testimony was due to continue and that police did not rule out that more arrest warrants would be issued.

Helector won the waste management contract in 2003, costing the state an additional €7.7m as there were cheaper options at the time.

Helector then overcharged Paphos municipality from 2008 to 2015 when Mayor Phedonos Phedonas stopped paying them.

It is believed €1m in kickbacks was paid between 2003 and 2015 in Paphos, Limassol, Larnaca and Nicosia.

Police have uncovered over 100 fake invoices that were used to cover up the kickbacks.

They are also expected to get another 40 statements in relation to the case.

Since 1996, Enviroplan was assigned 39 government projects relating to waste management and studies on consequences to the environment.

Cypriot authorities are still after Leonidas Bobolas, the owner of Helector and are waiting for a decision from Athens court of appeals.

The case has seen the arrest of 17 people, with 12 of them facing charges at Nicosia criminal court on April 26.

They are Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis; former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas; former head of the Paphos sewerage board Eftychios Malekides; suspended Paphos municipality chief financial officer Demetris Patsalides; interior ministry official Michalis Pantis, the person who oversaw works at the Koshi landfill; interior ministry officers Antonis Kourouzides, Stelios Papadopoulos, and Christakis Petrou, all members of the tenders committee; former interior ministry official Giorgos Koulappis; his son Nicos Koulappis; Jordanian civil engineer Ιmad Baqleh, an employee of the implicated company, Helector; and Demetris Yiannakopoulos, former director of Helector.

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