Cyprus Mail

Three jailed in Tepak EU funding racket

Limassol court

The criminal court on Thursday announced jail sentences ranging from two to four years for three people found guilty in a racket involving EU- funded research programmes at the Limassol-based technical university (Tepak),

Rozita Pavlidou, 60, a former employee of Tepak who managed the research programmes in question and is considered the mastermind, got four years, her son, Iacovos Carera Pavlides, 41, got two years, while a professor, Costas Costa, 43, was jailed for three years.

A company belonging to Pavlidou’s son was fined €70,000.

The defendants were accused of securing funds though unlawful and bogus procedures, and forged documents, for 19 EU co-funded projects.

The offences took place between 2009 and 2016 and came to the fore in 2017.

Pavlidou entered a guilty plea in 2020 to some 160 charges, including conspiracy to defraud, fraud, obtaining money under false pretenses, and money laundering. She admitted to obtaining around €400,000.

Her son admitted 19 counts while the professor pleaded guilty to 67.

Three other defendants, including two senior University of Cyprus officials, will be tried separately after they pleaded not guilty to similar charges.

Pavlidou’s daughter-in-law, who was also implicated, was cleared.

The court said that Pavlidou contributed in obtaining close to €430,000. The defendant took at least €44,000 from 12 programmes and the entire amount from the remainder.

Her son obtained around €44,500, out of which €30,650 ended up in his company.

According to the court, the professor was involved between 2011 and 2016 and through seven European programmes, he contributed in obtaining some €197,300, which was part of the €430,000.

Around €22,500 ended up in his possession but eventually he gave the money to the anti-money laundering unit.

The defendants’ unlawful actions put Cyprus on the spot and prompted a review of other programmes it had participated in.

The European Commission withheld €1.5m and sanctions will be imposed, the court said.

The court censured the university, saying that “while it knew about the unlawful actions of a particular official, it displayed inexcusable tolerance and acted belatedly in preventing illegal actions against it.”

The objective of a university, apart from promoting research, transferring knowledge, and cultivating culture, is to contribute towards shaping responsible citizens, capable of responding to the demands of human activity with scientific, professional, cultural adequacy, and responsibility, with respect to the laws, moral principles and values, the court said.

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