Police on Friday visited the Aradhippou town hall, in Larnaca, and collected files regarding three companies as part of a criminal probe into corruption allegations voiced by Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos.
Officers took files on oilfield service giants Schlumberger and Haliburton, as well as that of Krysanera Ltd, a company that wanted to open a gold refining facility in the area.
It followed claims made by Phedonos that Aradhippou municipality officials had demanded kickbacks from Schlumberger, which was looking to set up its base of operations in Larnaca a couple of years ago.
Despite repeated calls, the mayor refused to provide police with a formal statement. Municipal authorities had also demanded an investigation in a bid to clear their name, which, they said, was smeared by Phedonos’ allegations.
Municipal secretary Mattheos Alambritis said police officers visited the town hall at around 1pm and left an hour later.
“They asked for the Schlumberger files to investigate Phedonas Phedonos’ claims that members of the council were bribed to issue a permit for the building used by the American company,” Alambritis said.
He added that investigators also took the paperwork on Haliburton and Krysanera.
Despite being criticised as an attention seeker, Phedonos said he would not go to the police because every time he did so in previous occasions, those implicated found out what he had said shortly afterwards.
Also, he charged that authorities only arrested the people he named and never looked into the allegations further to identify other suspects.
Phedonos took over the helm last year from disgraced former DIKO mayor, Savvas Vergas, who is currently in prison for corruption.
In an expose published on November 9, 2014 the Sunday Mail was reported how both local Aradhippou officials as well as state authorities appeared to have granted permits to Schlumberger in record time, bending the rules.
Earlier, on October 23, opposition politicians kicked up a storm at the House plenum when it emerged that Aradhippou had granted Halliburton and Schlumberger building permits just two days before a new bill was passed relating to environmental studies for such facilities.
The municipality’s move blew out of the water a tacit deal that no such action would be taken prior to voting on a bill submitted by the Greens mandating extra environmental regulations for hydrocarbons-related activities on terra firma.