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Accused plead not guilty in sign fraud case

Signs at the Tafidon Vassileou beach near Paphos

Three individuals and two companies pleaded not guilty in Paphos on Friday to charges relating to an alleged €300,000 scam involving sign companies and the town’s municipality.

Andreas Nicolaou, a former municipal employee, Christos Ioannou, manager of Etna sign company, and Soteris Antoniades, manager of Alma sign company, face charges of conspiracy to commit felony, forgery and circulation of forged documents, obtaining money under false pretences, theft, abuse of power, and abuse of trust.

The alleged crimes took place between 2006 and 2012.

The suspects reportedly used three different means to extract 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.

On Friday, the court rejected a defence request for further details regarding the charge sheet.

Prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou said the charge sheet initially had 1,200 charges and likened it to an encyclopaedia.

The state managed to cut the number of charges to 40 and to word them in such a way as to avoid misinterpretation, he said.

The case continues on September 14.

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