By Loucas Charalambous
GIORGOS LILLIKAS, the leader of the Citizens Alliance, speaking during the submission of the candidatures last Wednesday made the following impassioned plea: “We ask for the trust and support of the citizens in the parliamentary elections to overthrow the old-party establishment of corruption and conflict of interest. With ethical politics, clean hands and radical proposals, we aim to reform the state and democratise our political system even further.”
On February 9, 2004, as Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Lillikas sent to several organisations that fell under the authority of his ministry, such as the CTO, the following letter:
“I refer to the meeting at the ministry which was held last October and at which the sports marketing company ‘SporTeam’ presented a proposal on the subject of the promotion of Cyprus as a centre of business development and a tourist destination during the Olympic Games in Athens in August 2004. The company ‘SporTeam’ has prepared a detailed proposal that I enclose and in which there is an analysis of a plan through which the State, as well as Cyprus’ businesses would be able to promote their products and services to people who will be in Greece in the specific period. The ministry has studied the proposal which it looks at positively. With this letter I am requesting that you study the specific proposal and am awaiting your positive response and hoping for the financial support of your organisation.”
According to an announcement by Lillikas on February 25, 2005, in response to Politis newspaper which had published the above letter, the SporTeam proposal would have cost in total 897,000 pounds (€1,532,615). By sheer coincidence, the person appearing as main shareholder of SporTeam in Cyprus was Stelios Constantinou. By sheer coincidence, Constantinou is a childhood friend, class-mate and koumbaros of Lillikas. By sheer coincidence, he was the accountant of the company Marketway that is owned by the Lillikas family. By sheer coincidence, Mrs Lillikas is the godmother of Constantinou’s son. And by devilish coincidence, the offices of SporTeam were housed in the same building as Marketway.
When Lillikas with the clean hands was asked at the time about all these coincidences he responded that the questions should have been directed at his wife, who would give the relevant explanations.
On January 13, 2013 and after a request by DIKO deputy Athina Kyriakidou, the CTO sent a memo to its general manager informing him that during the three-year period from 2004 to 2007 (during which Lillikas with the clean hands was a minister) the CTO paid the companies, Publicis (which was represented in Cyprus by Marketway) and SporTeam a total of €9,580,706.
I mention this bit of information only because I saw the relevant letter when it was published, but I do not know if there is some devilish coincidence here as well.
From the above total a sum of €163,950 was paid, as the letter points out, to SporTeam for the 2004 Olympics. But in the Lillikas’ announcement of February 25, 2005, it said that the SporTeam proposal had not been taken up. So, how did the company collect €163,950 when its proposal had been rejected? Was this a coincidence as well or was it one of those miracles that happened during the era of the clean hands?
Watching the submission of candidatures on television, I noticed that almost all Lillikas’ candidates were young. There is no way this is a coincidence. I suspect he chose as candidates a variety of kids, who because of their youth, would not have heard of SporTeam et al as these event took place 12 years ago. This could also explain their enthusiasm and eagerness to fight with Lillikas’ banner of ethical politics and clean hands “for the overthrow of the old-party establishment of corruption and conflict of interest.”