Police on Friday said they identified three cars imported to Cyprus by a crime ring which, with the alleged involvement of public servants, has been importing slightly damaged luxury vehicles and selling them as new.
The scam, which was revealed by Politis newspaper, was confirmed on state radio by transport minister Yiannis Karousos.
According to the information, culprits have been importing used luxury cars which were slightly damaged or disassembled, repairing them, and selling them as new with the help of an employee or employees of the road transport department who issued car titles without any reference to their initial state.
Police investigations into the case started six months ago, with complete confidentiality, after a tip-off from a senior official of the road transport department, Politis reported.
A 49-year-old woman who had the role of agent was recently arrested and remanded for three days, while additional arrests are expected in the coming days.
The woman was reportedly responsible for presenting documents falsely stating that the cars were not damaged, when in reality they were.
Police spokesman Christos Andreou told the Cyprus News Agency that so far, police have identified three cars imported through the scam, which the woman had registered as not damaged.
Police are also investigating whether used car dealers are also involved in the scam, while Andreou said that they are considering every scenario, including ones involving employees at the road transport department.
The senior road transport department employee who tipped off police and the transport minister was later targeted by arsonists who allegedly tried to silence him by destroying two cars parked at his house.
The informant as well as some of his colleagues expressed fear for their lives, Politis reported.
In his statements, Karousos said the state will pay to cover the damage caused by arsonists, adding the attack against the man was also against the ministry, the government and legality.
The road transport department “has many problems” the minister said, explaining that efforts are being made to resolve them and prevent corruption.
He then called on other employees of the department who might have any information to come forward.