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Waste management defendant gets 18-month suspended sentence

The former director of a company at the centre of a waste management scandal on Friday was given a suspended 18-month jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to bribing a public official.

Demetris Yiannakopoulos, the former director of Helector, admitted giving former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas between January 9, 2009 and April 21, 2010, €310,000 as a kickback to exercise his influence so that the company would be paid delayed dues.

Yiannakopoulos was Helector Cyprus director between May 15, 2007 and July 5, 2010. Under the instruction of the CEO of the Greek parent company, Athanasios Katris, he delivered cash to Vergas who in turn shared it out to other people after keeping his cut.

After Yiannakopoulos departed from Cyprus, the money, €456,000, was paid to Vergas by Ioannis Kokotsis.

Bribery carries a sentence of up to seven years in jail and or a €100,000 fine. At the time the offence was committed however, the penalty was five years, the court said.

Vergas has already been sentenced to two years in jail for this case on top of six he was doing for a similar case in Paphos.

As operator of 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.

On Friday, the court said the defendant’s marginal role in the commission of the offence, not acquiring any profits, and the failure to prosecute those who appeared to have played the main role, justified suspending the sentence for three years.

Additional reasons where his clean record, the fact that he had to look after his underage daughter, his admission, remorse, and cooperation with the authorities in clearing the case.

In total, 16 defendants – including two former mayors –  had been indicted in relation to the scam.

They – individuals and three companies – faced 104 charges including conspiracy to defraud, bribery, abuse of power, breach of trust by a public official, conspiracy to commit a felony, money laundering, and obtaining money under false pretences.

The other defendants are Larnaca Mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis;  Demetrios Patsalides (municipal employee); Michalis Pantis, Stelios Papadopoulos, Christos Petrou (civil servants); Antonis Kourouzides, Georgios Koullapis (pensioners); former head of the Paphos Sewerage Board Eftychios Malekides; Nicholas Koullapis (doctor); Imad Baqle (mechanical engineer); Enviroplan S.A.; Theofanis Lolos (chemical engineer); N.E Midoriaco Ltd; and Helector Cyprus Ltd.

Malekkides is also doing six years for his involvement in the Paphos case.

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