The state’s consultants appear to have inflated their cost estimates for the operation of the waste processing facility at Koshi, a government official said in court on Tuesday.
Kyriacos Kapris of the Audit Office was testifying for the prosecution in the ongoing trial concerning the landfills in Koshi, Larnaca and Marathounda, Paphos.
Both contracts were awarded to Helector, the company at the centre of the affair. It has emerged that Helector was grossly overcharging municipalities – and ultimately the taxpayer – by reporting higher waste volumes while officials looked the other way in return for skimming off the top.
Kapris was answering questions about Enviroplan, a company which since the early 2000s has acted as consultant to the state on the specifications for a number of waste management projects, including those in Marathounda and Koshi.
It is alleged that Enviroplan tailored those specifications to suit the bids made by Helector.
The witness said that Enviroplan’s estimates for the cost of the deodoriser systems installed at the Koshi facility appeared excessive.
For the year 2007 alone, Kapris said, the company estimated the cost of the chemical deodorisers at some €217,000.
Initially Enviroplan had made provisions for the use of a biofilter deodoriser, but subsequently switched the specifications to a chemical deodoriser.
Higher operating costs at the facility translated into higher charges to the municipalities.
Another matter that raised eyebrows, said Kapris, was Enviroplan’s estimate of the annual financing cost of the Koshi facility.
Enviroplan placed this cost at €150,000 per year, whereas the contractor himself quoted a far lower figure – €81,000.
Also troubling were the fees paid by the state to Enviroplan’s single consultant.
The consultant was paid €250,000 per annum, an excessive fee in Kapris’ opinion.
He said that usually consultancy fees are in the €7,000-€8,000 a month range, meaning the annual fees should not exceed €100,000.
The trial continues, with the next hearing date set for May 2.