Two of the four former and current employees of the Paphos municipality who are allegedly involved in a road signs scam that cheated the local government out of an estimated €300,000, denied the charges against them in court on Monday, while the two others said they were not ready to answer.
The four – Paphos municipal secretary Themis Philippides, former municipal mechanical engineer Savvas Savva, former financial director of the municipality Demetris Patsalides and former accountant of the municipality Christos Georgiou – face charges of deception and abuse of power.
The Paphos district court set the hearing of the case of Philippides and Patsalides who did not admit to the charges, for September 20. The court hearing concerning Savva and Georgiou was set for April 24 for them to admit to or deny the charges, following the request of the two defendants’ lawyers who said that they did not have in front of them the entire case material, thus their clients were not ready to answer.
All four suspects were asked to each sign a €50,000 bail.
This is the second case concerning orders made for road signs without the approval of the town’s municipal council. Last week, the director of Etna Signs Ltd, Christos Ioannou, and of Alma Signs Ltd, Sotiris Antoniades along with former employee of the Paphos municipality, Andreas Nicolaou, were referred to trial before the Criminal Court on April 3.
The suspects face charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, forgery and circulation of forged documents, obtaining money under false pretences, theft, abuse of power and abuse of trust.
Implicated in the case, other than the seven individuals, are also the two private companies, Etna and Alma.
Nicolaou is currently in jail for stealing coins from parking meters. He is to be released on May 30. The two company directors each signed a €200,000 bail and handed over their travel documents.
The case has been filed with the Paphos district court, after the attorney-general’s office determined there was sufficient evidence to press charges. The scam was first uncovered in December 2014.
The alleged crimes took place between 2006 and 2012. The suspects reportedly used three different means to extract easy cash; by issuing false invoices for road signs that were never made, charging for larger signs than those that were actually manufactured and charging the municipality for invoices the Public Works Department had already paid for. Paphos police had said that some of the receipts were not even approved by the municipal council.