Theofanis Lolos, the director of Enviroplan SA, the company acting as consultant for the state on a number of waste management projects, was on Tuesday charged with bribery and corruption.
Lolos, 49, is expected to stand trial along with 12 other suspects in connection with the waste scandal involving the landfills at Marathounda, Paphos, and Koshi, Larnaca. The trial is set to begin before the Nicosia criminal court on April 26.
He is so far the only individual who will be charged despite cooperating with authorities. By contrast, executives of other companies have all received immunity from prosecution in exchange for information on the scam that spanned several years. Enviroplan is also being charged as a legal entity
A Greek national, Lolos is being charged with conspiracy to commit a felony, in Cyprus and in Greece, in the 2006 to 2016 time period, as well as fraud, corrupting a public official and money laundering.
He was released with restrictions after posting a €200,000 bond.
Since the early 2000s Enviroplan has won several tenders, including contracts to advise the government on the specifications for the waste management facilities in Marathounda and Koshi.
It is suspected that Enviroplan tailored those specifications to suit the bid made by Helector, a Greek outfit which eventually won the contracts to build and operate the two landfills.
It has since emerged that Helector was grossly overcharging municipalities – and ultimately the taxpayer – by reporting higher waste volumes while officials looked the other way in return for skimming off the top.
Although authorities are filing a separate case for the Greek entrepreneur, it is expected that, per routine practice, the prosecution will be suspended and a new charge sheet filed to include Lolos along with the other 12 suspects.
Police, in consultation with the Attorney-general, decided not to turn Lolos into a state witness, having determined that although he did provide details about the scam he was not being entirely truthful about the scope of his role in the affair.
According to evidence already presented in court, Lolos, in his capacity as an engineering consultant to the government, had deliberately withheld information on the true cost of the Koshi landfill facility.
Lolos is suspected of conspiring to hide the fact that the construction and operation cost of the landfill was far higher than that cited by Helector, the company which won the contract.
As a result, the state ended up paying Helector some €7.6 million more for the project than it should have.
At the same time, in return for this arrangement with Helector, Lolos got the CEO of Helector to agree to a long-term deal whereby the environmental monitoring of the Koshi landfill would be granted to a company effectively controlled by Lolos, although Lolos’ name did not appear on that company’s documents.
The Koshi contract was awarded to Helector in 2006.
Police investigators have to date tracked over 100 fake invoices for waste treatment, and estimate that the kickbacks to public officials in the loop are in excess of €1 million.
Lolos meanwhile has hired top Cyprus lawyer Chris Triantafyllides to represent him. Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Triantafyllides said his client has a great deal more to reveal.
Lolos engaged in these activities because he was being extorted by various quarters, Triantafyllides said.
Meantime police have broadened their investigation and are now specifically looking into another contract awarded to Enviroplan in 2010.
In his depositions to police, Lolos also alleged that whereas a public contract had been awarded to a consortium comprising his own company, Enviroplan SA, and Kocks Consult Gmbh, the then AKEL government was stalling on the actual signing of the contract.
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.
Once the €25,000 was paid to AKEL, Lolos claims, the contract was finally signed on August 10, 2010.
The interior ministry has already asked the attorney-general’s office for a swift legal opinion as to whether, given Lolos’ admission, the 2010 contract – which is still in effect – may be voided.