Cyprus Mail

Six found guilty of defrauding the state

Larnaca court

Larnaca district court on Thursday found six persons guilty of defrauding the state to the tune of €630,000.

Sentencing will be passed later this month.

The defendants in the case are: Panicos Avraam, owner of a clearing agency at the time in question; Andreas Teratsias, café owner; Giorgos Garivaldinis and Costas Zaloumis,  customs officers; Christakis Savva, civil servant; and Vahe Zatoyian, owner of a cigar shop.

They were found guilty of illegal possession and trade in duty-free goods, conspiracy to defraud, money laundering, corruption of a public official and dereliction of duty by a public official.

The case surfaced in 2008 when police got a tip that a container loaded aboard a Cyprus Airways plane contained narcotics. Subsequent checks found no drugs, but rather 25 cartons of cigarettes from non-EU countries.

According to evidence heard during the trial, the defendants conspired to misreport the quantities of cigarettes imported via non-EU countries. In particular, the implicated customs officers doctored data on Customs computers.

The misreporting cost the state some €630,000 in duties.

The case was first filed in 2010 with the criminal court, but that process was suspended and re-filed in 2011 with Larnaca district court.

However due to the complexity of the case the hearings did not begin until late 2013.

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