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Crime Cyprus

Vergas’ attempt to halt money-laundering charge on hold

Former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas is already serving a six-year jail sentence

Former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas’ plans to hand over some of his property in exchange for the dropping of some corruption charges against him have been stymied by legal obstacles, it emerged on Wednesday.

The charges relate to overcharging at waste-management plants in Paphos and Larnaca.

Vergas, who is already serving a six-year sentence after being convicted for receiving kickbacks from contractors for the construction of Paphos’ sewage system, also pleaded guilty last month to four charges including bribery and abuse of authority in connection with the case concerning the waste-management plants.

He pleaded not guilty to a fifth charge, that of money laundering, and had offered to give real estate worth €300,000 – the amount he is accused of laundering – to the state in exchange for the charge to be dropped.

Prosecution told the court that legal obstacles had delayed the transfer of the property and that Vergas offered another piece of property as an alternative. According to the land registry this property transfer is expected to be faster.

The charge in question has not been dropped yet, prosecution told court.

The trial was adjourned for April 26 where Vergas’ lawyer will make his mitigation plea and court will announce the sentence.

Vergas was among a group of high-profile arrests last year including the then mayor of Larnaca Andreas Louroudjiatis.

Apart from Louroudjiatis and Vergas, the authorities charged Larnaca municipal employees Demetris Patsalides, Stelios Papadopoulos, and Christos Petrou, civil servant Michalis Pantis, pensioners Antonis Kourouzides, Georgios Koullapis, and Demetris Giannakopoulos, doctor Nicolas Koullapis, former Paphos Sewerage Board director Eftichios Malekkides, civil engineer Imad Bagle, chemical engineer Theofanis Lolos, and companies Enviroplan Consultants & Engineers, Helector Cyprus Ltd, and NE Midoriaco Ltd.

Malekkides is also serving a six-year prison sentence with Vergas in connection to the Paphos Sewerage Board scandal.

The defendants face charges of bribery, conspiracy, fraud, money-laundering, abuse of power and forgery.

Helector is the company at the centre of the waste management scandal. As operator of the two landfills – one at Marathounda, Paphos, the other at Koshi, Larnaca – the company is alleged to have overcharged municipalities – and ultimately the taxpayer – by reporting higher waste volumes while public officials looked the other way in return for skimming off the top.

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