Cyprus Mail

Former Larnaca mayor found guilty of corruption (Updated)

Larnaca Mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis (smoking) is among those found guilty

Former Larnaca mayor Andreas Louroudjiatis, three state officials and a private company were found guilty of corruption on Friday in relation to the operation of two waste management plants in Larnaca and Paphos.

Two other defendants and a company were acquitted.

The court adjourned for February 14 when the state will file a request for the defendants’ assets to be seized. On February 25, defence lawyers will plead for leniency during the mitigation hearing.

Louroudjiatis, the financial controller of Paphos municipality Demetris Patsalides, town planning department engineer Michalis Pantis, former town planning department engineer Giorgos Koullapis, and Helector Cyprus Ltd, were found guilty following a long process that started in 2016.

Former town planning department engineer Antonis Kourouzides, doctor Nicolas Koullapis, as well as the latter’s company, Midoriaco Ltd, were acquitted.

The case concerns waste management company Helector, the operator of two landfills – one at Marathounda, Paphos, the other at Koshi, Larnaca – which is alleged to have overcharged municipalities by reporting higher waste volumes while public officials looked the other way in return for backhanders.

According to the Legal Service, the affair was “the worse case of bribery of state officials and workers that was brought before Cypriot justice”.

The case in question concerned 83 charges relating to bribery, corruption, conspiracy and money laundering offences.

“The individuals involved were all state officials and workers who received kickbacks in excess of €1m to promote the interests of defendant Helector Cyprus, which managed the two projects,” a written statement said.

Five defendants subsequently pleaded guilty and two had the legal proceedings against them suspended by the authorities.

In the course of the trial, former Paphos mayor Savvas Vergas and four other individuals had pleaded guilty.

Vergas had been sentenced to two years in jail in 2017 in connection with the scandal. That was on top of a six-year jail term he was doing at the time for bribery and corruption over the Paphos Sewerage Board scandal.

The offences to which Vergas pleaded guilty to were committed between 2009 and 2014.

The Paphos landfill was constructed by a consortium between Greek company Helector and German company Bilfinger Baugesellschaft and was completed in July 2005.

Per the terms of the landfill’s operation, the company agreed to serve an annual 36,000 tonnes of waste, with a five-per-cent margin on quantities, for a fixed fee from municipalities.

In fact, the landfill received almost 70,000 tonnes per year, and the company demanded additional fees.

As head of the committee negotiating the contract on behalf of municipalities, Vergas travelled to Athens in 2009 to discuss the matter.

At the meeting, it was agreed that Vergas receive a five per cent cut on the contract’s annual revenues in exchange for arranging payment for the additional fee demands.

Vergas received a total of €766,000 from the consortium, of which he kept €311,240, splitting the rest among others.

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