By Elias Hazou
ATTORNEY-GENERAL Costas Clerides on Thursday vehemently denied allegations that he abused his position by facilitating the sale of a plot of land to his personal lawyer.
He was responding to daily Politis, which claimed the AG issued a legal opinion in early 2014, advising the land registry on how to handle instances where appointed receivers of property, belonging to liquidated companies, requested that the property be transferred to them.
The daily said Clerides’ legal advice led the land registry to adopt a new policy, which in turn paved the way for a receiver to take control of land in the village of Pomos, Paphos.
The land in question was then sold to Giorgos Triantafyllides, who happened to be Clerides’ attorney, for a bargain – about €200,000 less than what the owner of the property, a liquidated company, estimated its value.
The company in question is currently suing Clerides, Triantafyllides, the receiver as well as the bank to which the property was mortgaged, for conspiring to promote the sale of the land.
Politis said it was awfully convenient that the land registry’s new policy –based on the AG’s advice – was issued just two weeks prior to the passage of a new foreclosures law (September 6, 2014) which afforded additional protection to mortgaged properties, including protection from actions by receivers where legal proceedings are pending.
The paper implied that Clerides used his position as the top lawyer in the land to benefit an acquaintance of his.
Responding initially, Clerides told a radio station during a live telephone link-up that he was so disgusted with the Politis report that he “wanted to vomit.”
“I woke up today with a stomach ache. It must have been something I ate last night. I tried to relieve myself by throwing up, but couldn’t. But after reading the newspaper, I can assure you that I did manage to vomit. Thank you for that,” the AG said before hanging up.
Politis hit back, accusing the AG of lacking decorum.
Responding again on Thursday, Clerides released a statement pointing out that Politis had got the story – and its conclusions – wrong.
He said his legal advice to the land registry concerned a number of cases piling up at the land registry.
It was the land registry itself that had earlier sought his opinion, he clarified.
Moreover, at the time he issued his legal opinion, the company property in question was not subject to sale.
Either way, he added, the case would be resolved in civil court.
There has been a growing animus between Politis and the AG for some months now, with Clerides claiming that the paper is out to get him.