Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said on Sunday the government would be proceeding immediately with cancelling its agreement with waste consultants Enviroplan following an opinion of the attorney-general.
Theofanis Lolos, the director of Enviroplan 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.
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.
Hasikos, speaking at an event in Dromolaxia on Sunday said the contract with Lolos’ company would be terminated. “I will make use of the attorney-general’s opinion and will move to the direct interruption of the contract with Mr Lolos as a consultant of the Republic for the management of waste,” the minister said.
He also said his ministry had just now found the files it needed as part of the ongoing investigation and had handed them over to police.
Asked whether the state would pursue a damages claim, Hasikos said it is not known yet the amount lost to the taxpayer, adding that he was hearing everything from 10 million euros to 50-60 million euros
“This will become apparent through investigations,” he said, but cautioned that the contractor can say he was within his rights.
Asked about the status of the Limassol waste plans that is in the process of being constructed, Hasikos said the idea was not to see the project delayed, or to keep the delay to a minimum. He said the process to engage a new consultant would be fast-tracked.
On the issue of charges, Hasikos said they would be around 19 euros per tonne of rubbish compared to the 75 euros per tonne for Koshi. “It was not us who handled this, but the previous government,” he added.
“Very soon, within the next few days we – the Koshi Management Council consisting of mayors, Communities and legal representatives – will decide.” The charges had already been dropped to 39.90 euros, he said, adding that he hoped there would be further reductions.