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Crime Cyprus

Former Helector boss pleads for leniency in bribery trial (Updated)

The Helector run waste-management plant in Koshi


The Nicosia criminal court will announce the sentence of former director of Greek-owned waste-management company Helector Cyprus Demetris Giannakopoulos on Friday, after he pleaded guilty to bribing a public official, it was announced on Wednesday.

Demetris Giannakopoulos had been accused of having bribed former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas in 2009 and 2010 with some €310,000 in exchange for Vergas arranging the payment of unpaid dues by the municipality to the company over its operation of the Paphos landfill.

In court on Wednesday, Giannakopoulos’ lawyer Thanasis Korfiotis argued for mitigation, requesting a suspended sentence for his client for a number of mitigating factors.

Korfiotis argued that Giannakopoulos had no personal gain from the affair and was simply acting on instructions from his then boss, Athanasios Katris, as well as that he had fully cooperated with investigators fully.

Giannakopoulos, his lawyer said, is a 63-year-old man who lives permanently in Bucharest, Romania, with his partner and their eight-year-old daughter, whose care he is responsible for while her mother is at work.

The defendant has realised and regretted his mistake, Korfiotis said, and deserves a second chance from the court.

Giannakopoulos was among several Helector senior executives accused of giving backhanders to the jailed former mayor in exchange for preferential treatment in the handling of municipal contracts.

In his confession Giannakopoulos had disputed the sum of backhanders paid to Vergas.

Earlier, Vergas – currently serving a six-year jail term for bribery and corruption over the Paphos Sewerage Board (Sapa) scandal – was handed an added two-year jail term after pleading guilty to receiving bribes over the Paphos landfill contract.

The offences to which Vergas pleaded guilty to were committed between 2009 and 2014.

The Paphos landfill was constructed by a consortium between Greek company Helector and German company Bilfinger Baugesellschaft, completed in July 2005.

Per the terms of the landfill’s operation, the company agreed to serve an annual 36,000 tonnes of waste, with a five-per-cent margin on quantities, for a fixed fee from municipalities.

In fact, the landfill received almost 70,000 tonnes per year, and the company demanded additional fees.

As head of the committee negotiating the contract on behalf of municipalities, Vergas travelled to Athens in 2009 to discuss the matter.

At the meeting, it was agreed that Vergas receive a five per cent cut on the contract’s annual revenues in exchange for arranging payment for the additional fee demands.

Vergas received a total of €766,000 from the consortium, of which he kept €311,240, splitting the rest among others.

Vergas was arrested following revelations by his successor, Phedonas Phedonos, in March last year.

In a statement to the police, he admitted being bribed by the consortium.

In addition to Vergas and Giannakopoulos, 14 others are defendants in the trial, which includes similar goings-on at the Koshi landfill.

They are former Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis, former Sapa director Eftichios Malekkides, civil servants Michalis Pantis, Stelios Papadopoulos, and Christos Petrou, pensioners Antonis Kourouzides and Georgios Koullapis, municipal employee Demetrios Patsalides, doctor Nicolas Koullapis, engineer Imad Bagle, chemical engineer Theofanis Lolos, and companies Enviroplan, Helector Cyprus, and Midoriaco Ltd.

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