Cyprus Mail
Opinion Tales from the Coffeeshop

Tales from the Coffeeshop: The Tof touch – everything he handles turns to dust

Christofias pushed a successful and thriving construction firm to the brink of collapse

THERE is no the term to express the opposite of the ‘Midas Touch’ as far as I know, but if there were it would certainly apply to Comrade Tof who appears to have a knack for turning to dust anything he touches.

We could call it the Tof Touch, even though his powers are greater than those of King Midas as he does not have to actually touch anything to turn it into worthless scrap metal – just a few words of advice from him are guaranteed to wreak destruction and despair.

This was made evident from the statement to the court made last Wednesday by the comrade’s former buddy and financier, contractor Miltiades Neophytou, who filed a lawsuit demanding the repayment of debts, amounting to a little over €20 million, from Tof.

Not all the money is owed directly by the comrade. His personal debt to the Neophytou’s construction firm for work done on his Kellaki dacha and his Nicosia house was in the region of a million euro, but he repaid €270,000, while his two comrade daughters have undertaken to pay the cost for the building work on the first and second floors of the house.

The bulk of the contractor’s money went to the Akel football club Omonia, at the behest of Tof who assured Neophytou all the money he spent would be paid back to him, through companies controlled by Akel. Of the €21.6m he and his company spent from 2008 to 2012 €8.58m was returned, with repayments stopped a few months before Tof left office. Meanwhile the total interest charged by the B of C on the loans Neophytou’s company took out to fund Omonia now stands at €8.44m.

His close friendship with Tof has not only ruined the guy financially, it has turned him into a human wreck, according to people who know him.

THE TOF TOUCH had pushed a successful and thriving construction firm to the brink of collapse, Neophytou’s son now having taken over control in an effort to save it. Omonia, technically speaking, is also bankrupt, but it is lucky that there was no direct agreement between it and Neophytou regarding the money he gave so he could not take legal action against the club.

So it was not only the Cyprus state that Tof expertly led to the brink of bankruptcy; he did the same to a financially robust construction firm and to the best-supported football club in Kyproulla. In all cases he advised or followed the same business model – borrow as much as you can, spend, spend, spend and when you can’t repay the loans do a runner and let some other mug deal with it.

He could have tried to call his chum President Putin, who lent him €2 billion in 2011, and asked him for another €25m so he could pay off Miltiades and avoid the embarrassment of the court case. Another option would be to try to raise the cash himself by setting up the Tof Touch Financial Service, which could sell consultancy services to businesses that wanted to go bankrupt in record time.

With his successful track record, nobody would question his expertise and the company would make big bucks before he bankrupts it.

THE DELUSIONS of adequacy with regard to running the countries, Tof entertained for football clubs also. As Neophytou said in his statement, he was forced to become president of Omonia by Tof in March 2008, just a few weeks after the start of Tof’s presidency.

Tof was aware that when Omonia was doing badly his and Akel’s popularity suffered. He strongly believed that a successful run by the team – such as winning the league and playing the group stages of Champions League – would boost his re-election prospects in 2013. He had just been elected and was already thinking how to secure a second term.

And he decided that with his moneybags friend, spending his company’s money as club president, Omonia would dominate Cyprus football and ensure his re-election. Neophytou said in his statement: “In the beginning I had some reservations because I did not know much about football, but Christofias reassured me, simply telling I would do whatever he said.”

When he looked at the club’s finances, Neophytou realised that they were in a very bad state and millions were needed. He told Tof of his concerns and he got some sound economic advice from the guru of bankruptcies. “Omonia needed to be at the top, and consequently its spending should not have been cut but, on the contrary, increased.” He promised Neophytou that any money he spent would be paid back.

Millions were poured into Omonia, which paid over the odds for players chosen by Tof, the football man, and the club managed to win one league championship and two cups and piled up debts from which it will never recover.

PEOPLE would have every right to say that Neophytou got what his stupidity deserved. Giving up his company’s millions on the strength of the word of some peasant politician merits a Darwin award.

His story could also be made into a film noir that starts with the fallen hero recounting how his downfall begun… “It was a hot, humid day in 2001 in Nicosia when I first set eyes on Demetris Christofias and immediately fell under his spell… was it foolishness or my trusting nature?”

What other reason could there be for Neophytou taking a €2m personal loan from RCB, arranged by Tof, in order to help Omonia meet the UEFA criteria in 2011? Two years later he was sued by the bank for failing to make repayments and the case is in court. Murders are committed for much less than what Tof did to his buddy.

ETHNARCH Junior has upped his spoilt brat behaviour on hearing there was progress in the talks. His tantrum followed by his walk-out of last Tuesday’s meeting at the presidential palace of the party leaders, was another example of his growing immaturity.

He walked out because Prez Nik refused to change the agenda of the meeting and discuss the Cyprob (should we apply for the inclusion of Cyprob in the Oxford English Dictionary?) as the spoilt brat was demanding. The Cyprob was scheduled for discussion the following day but big baby would not hear of it and walked out sulking. He was followed out by Dr Sizo, who reportedly phoned his mentor Dr Faustus to ask him what he should do.

BOTH turned up the next evening for prez Nik’s promised briefing about the talks, which consisted of him reading a 53-page document. The aim was obviously to bore them into submission but it did not work.

The spoilt prince, having the short concentration span that afflicts the Playstation generation, kept interrupting Nik’s reading demanding explanations and insisting on giving his opinion. When Junior stayed quiet for longer than five minutes Perdikis would start interrupting Nik with his self-important questions that, nevertheless, relieved the boredom.

Dr Sizo, in contrast, was on his best behaviour having been censured by his Edek comrades, for copying the spoilt brat and walking out the previous day.

YESTERDAY Junior repeated his threat that Dikheads would not vote for government bills in parliament to punish Nik for keeping them in the dark about the talks. Is it Nik’s fault that Junior was not listening when he was briefing the party leaders about the talks?

Of course now, he has decided it was not enough to inform the leaders only and that Nik had an obligation to brief the public as well about the talks, because people had a right to know; he also wants the public to have an input even though he did not propose a feasible way of doing this.

We should not be too harsh on the immature one, because he is fighting for his political future which would cease to exist without the Cyprob. He would have no role and nothing to say and once the rusfeti is taken over by the political forces of the settlement the Dikheads will abandon his family’s party as well.

‘NOT AN inch of territory returned” shouted Tuesday’s front-page headline in Phil which seems to be inventing horror stories about the talks in order to turn its readers against a settlement. This time, not even the rejectionist leaders, who normally take a cue from the paper’s unrelentingly negative stories about the talks, took the report seriously.

The report which claimed Akinci believed there should be no territorial adjustments, was based on “reliable information” obtained by Phil, presumably from an unreliable source. Unless the writer just made it up wanting to help Junior’s ongoing effort to keep his political future alive. It turns out there was not an inch of truth in the story.

MOTHER Russia, meanwhile, seeing its loyal followers of the anti-settlement camp losing their calm decided to come to their rescue. First, there was a meeting of our mum’s local overlord Ambassador Stan Osadchiy with political has-been Yiannakis Omirou.

Desperately looking for a new political role, the pitiful Omirou has decided to act as a salesman of Mother Russia, regardless of the big number of active politicians and newspapers doing the same job. After the meeting he self-importantly tweeted to his three followers, “Excellent meeting with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation in Cyprus. Steadfast position in favour of international conference#Cyprus.” The idea of the international conference dates back to the Cold War era when the Soviet Union was regularly calling for one, so as to avoid saying anything remotely critical about the Turkish occupation.

How Stan remembered this joke from the Cold War era is anyone’s guess. Junior did not see it as a joke, picking it up and yesterday demanding an international conference for Cyprus, with the participation of Russia and China. This is the same guy that is vehemently opposed to a multi-party conference on Kyproulla. But if they call it an ‘international, multi-party conference’ he would be all for it.

AS A SECOND step in our Mum’s effort to rally the anti-settlement forces, the official spokeswoman of Russia’s foreign ministry – Maria Zakharova – “spoke exclusively” to Haravhgi and said that “progress in the talks could only be judged, based on results.”

She also censured “the persistent efforts of some our Western partners to step up the talks procedure with the aim of imposing a settlement of the Cyprus problem, as soon as possible, regardless of the cost.” The “exclusive” comments published in Friday’s Haravghi were not so exclusive as they also appeared in the Friday edition of Phil, Mother Russia’s, unofficial cheerleader since the days of the Soviet Union.

And of course the state radio CyBC made Moscow’s crude effort to discredit the talks, stir anti-West sentiment and rally the rejectionist one of its top stories. Zakharova, however, made no mention of the international conference that Stan sold to the naive Omirou as Moscow policy. I hope this did not disappoint Junior after the terrible week he has had. I hear he has been refusing to eat his vegetables all week.

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