Cyprus Mail

AKEL chief’s prison visit to Zannetos was lawful ‘but odd’

Incarcerated AKEL cadre Venizelos Zannetos has the right to be visited by anyone at the Central Prisons as he has not been remanded in custody or been charged in relation to the waste management investigation, sources have told the Cyprus Mail.

The Mail contacted law enforcement authorities to inquire about AKEL leader Andros Kyprianou visiting and speaking with Zannetos at the Central Prisons on Monday, given that Zannetos has been questioned in connection to the ongoing criminal investigation.

Zannetos refused to answer questions during questioning over the weekend. Speaking to reporters on Monday, shortly after meeting with the convict, Kyprianou said Zannetos had opted not to speak as he was still trying to recall the events in question.

Sources said Kyprianou’s visit was lawful, because Zannetos – serving a three-and-a-half years sentence for his involvement in another case, the Dromolaxia real estate affair – was neither remanded nor charged in connection with the current waste management case.

As such, the convict was entitled to visits, the sources explained.

But they did concede that whereas Kyprianou’s visit was lawful, it was “weird” given the AKEL connection.

Zannetos, AKEL’s former financial controller, allegedly received, via a middleman, €25,000 in order to smooth over a contract for a public project awarded in 2010 to engineering consultants Enviroplan.

According to Enviroplan’s director Theofanis Lolos, who is in police custody, in 2010 a contract had been awarded to a consortium comprising his own company Enviroplan SA and Kocks Consult Gmbh.

However, Lolos told police, the then AKEL government was stalling on the actual signing of the contract.

But once the €25,000 was paid to AKEL as a donation, Lolos claims, the contract was finally signed on August 10, 2010.

The contract related to preparing the tender specifications for, as well as for monitoring the operation of, a proposed integrated solid waste management facility for Limassol district.

AKEL has publicly conceded to receiving a €25,000 contribution during the time period in question,though not specifically from Lolos, but insists the donation was above board and nothing to do with granting the contract.”

However the party has yet to provide specifics on the donation.

But the same law enforcement sources hinted that police would be pursuing this avenue further.  They hinted that Zannetos, and possibly other individuals affiliated to AKEL, could be called in for more questioning about the €25,000.

“They need to get their story straight…have they in fact tracked the money, when exactly was it paid into AKEL coffers, and so on,” the sources said.

But the €25,000 donation could get legally tricky, because Zannetos was not a public official, he was a member of AKEL.

“Technically therefore it’s not bribery, you might call it a sweetener, so you’d have to find an airtight way to classify the transaction as a criminal offence, it’s not that simple.”

The Dromolaxia case, a land scam involving the purchase by the CyTA Pension Fund of Turkish Cypriot property in Dromolaxia, Larnaca, and the construction of an office complex at an inflated price, saw five people convicted in January 2015, including  Zannetos.

Zanettos was found guilty of extorting money from the main prosecution witness, businessman Nicos Lillis.

AKEL has always claimed that Zannetos was innocent.

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