Cyprus Mail

Iraqi man remanded for alleged business scam

Larnaca court

By Evie Andreou

A 49-year-old man from Iraq, holder of a passport issued by the Netherlands, was remanded on Thursday by the Larnaca court for five days for allegedly tricking two men from Cyprus into giving him €23,000 in total to arrange for them to carry out construction work in Iraq, which never happened.

The offences allegedly took place between March and April 2013 in Nicosia and Larnaca.

The suspect was arrested in Brussels last month on a European arrest warrant and extradited to Cyprus. He was brought to Cyprus on Wednesday.

He was reported in April 2014 by two contractors from Aradippou who said that a relative of his had approached them a year earlier and asked them if they were interested in carrying out construction works in Iraq, and that he had known a person who had the power and connections to make it happen.

The two men reportedly agreed to meet with this person, due to the recession their profession was going through because of the economic crisis. They then had a meeting with another man, at the offices of his company in Aradippou, who had told them he was a business partner of the suspect in a construction company based in Iraq.

He then asked them to each give him €11,500 to arrange for the necessary paperwork. This would include registering their companies with Iraqi authorities. He had claimed that this was a standard procedure for contractors from other counties who wanted to land construction contracts in Iraq.

The two men told police they agreed to the procedure which included a number of processes involving the Cyprus foreign ministry, and the Iraqi embassy in Athens.

They then each paid the man €4,000 in cash and deposited €7,500 to a Greek bank account belonging to the Aradippou company.

The owner of the company then told them their companies had been registered and sent them each their plane tickets. They were to fly to Iraq at the end of May 2013.

An hour before their departure however, one of the two men received a call from the 49-year-old who had informed him that the companies were not registered in Iraq after all and that the deal was off.

The owner of the Aradippou company called the other contractor and told him that everything would be ready within 20 days, and they could then fly to Iraq.

The two contactors gave the Aradippou company owner a few weeks to carry on with the deal, but after the deadline passed and nothing was being done, they asked for their money back, which they never received.

The owner of the Aradippou company, who was called in for questioning, admitted to taking €23,000 in total by the two complainants but said he had given all of it to the suspect, and that the two contractors were aware of this. He claimed he was too a victim in this case.

Police then issued two warrants, one in Cyprus, the one European, against the 49-year-old that were pending until his arrest last month in Brussels.

The suspect denies any involvement in the case. He is being investigated for committing a felony, and for money extortion under false pretences.

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