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Cyprus

Tenders debacle allows company accused of over-charging to keep operating waste-management site

The Helector run waste-management plant at Koshi

The tenders process to pick a successor to Helector, the Greek waste-management company embroiled in an overcharging scandal, has been suspended pending a final ruling on an appeal filed by a German company that was not considered.

In the meantime, Helector is still operating the Koshi waste-management site.

The Tenders Review Board interim decision to suspend the process, which was released on December 8, was kick-started after the Legal Service confirmed the contract with Helector should be cancelled and should have been open to all interested bidders.

Instead, the Water Development Department, which technically oversees the Koshi plant, ran a closed process by asking selected contractors to submit bids, citing “urgent and unforeseeable extraordinary circumstances out of its control”.

Such circumstances allow a circumvention of the law on public tenders by allowing for an expedited process, provided this would best serve the public interest.

However, German recycling company Eggersmann Anlagenbau Gmbh, which was not included in the list of selected bidders to replace Helector, argued in its appeal to cancel the process that the department was aware of the events surrounding the Helector contract months ago, and that the decision to cancel its contract – which triggered the new tenders process – could not be classed as an “urgent and unforeseeable extraordinary circumstance”.

Arguing before the Tenders Review Board, the Water Development Department’s lawyers motioned that, even if the board were to order the suspension of the process, it should include a caveat that such suspension would apply to the final stages – awarding the contract – thus allowing the department to complete all earlier steps.

This, too, was rejected by the applicants, who argued that, in the event of its appeal being accepted, the public interest will not have been best served by spending time and money on a process that will have been cancelled.

Despite the dire need to decommission the Kotsiatis landfill, which will be done once the new Koshi contract has been awarded, the board accepted the applicants’ views and ordered the suspension of the process until a ruling on Eggersmann Anlagenbau’s appeal has been issued.

This development means that Helector, whose contract technically remains in force, continues to operate the Koshi plant.

In fact, it has continued to do so since March, when criminal proceedings were launched against it by the Republic of Cyprus in connection with the overcharging scandal.

Helector continues to issue invoices for the services it provides municipalities, although these remain unpaid on instruction by the state’s Treasury.

Thus far, municipalities’ dues to Helector are estimated at €13 million.

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