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Paphos mayor trains sights on contractors

Phaedonas
Paphos Mayor Phedonas Phedonos

Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos said Thursday he will file a complaint to the police against both the Contractors Council and the Scientific and Technical Chamber where he’ll accuse of them of dereliction of duty, for having taken no disciplinary action against companies previously implicated in the Paphos sewerage board (Sapa) scandal.

“I’m in contact with an attorney, and we’re working on filing a complaint to the authorities,” Phedonos told the Cyprus Mail.

A day earlier, the mayor had said he’d report to authorities the Contractors Council as well as the Scientific and Technical Chamber (Etek) for dereliction of duty and obstruction of disciplinary proceedings.

Asked in what capacity he’d be filing the complaint to the police, Phedonos said in his capacity as current director of Sapa.

The affair relates to the Paphos sewerage board scandal, where in 2015 a criminal court handed down sentences to the town’s then-mayor Savvas Vergas and a number of municipal councillors, having found them guilty of taking bribes.

During the trial, officials from at least two construction and engineering companies stated on the record and under oath they had greased politicians and public officials in order to land contracts with the Paphos sewerage board.

Vergas and the other defendants had collectively received around €1 million in kickbacks, often handed in suitcases during clandestine meetings held either at the Paphos municipality or the Hilton hotel in Nicosia.

Medcon and Nemesis were two of the contractors implicated. Neither the companies nor their officials were sentenced, having got immunity in return for testifying for the prosecution.

Medcon is currently still listed with the Contractors Council. Its licence is valid, and the company has ‘A’ status – meaning it can bid for a public works contract regardless of size.

Nemesis is no longer listed on the council’s registry under that name.

In July 2016, following the trial and the convictions, the Contractors Council itself initiated a disciplinary probe against the companies implicated in the Sapa scandal.

Deletion from the council’s registry is the maximum sanction the entity can impose on contractors. In such a case, a contractor loses their license.

But eight years on, and four different boards having come and gone, the council did not get around to completing the disciplinary probe.

In January of this year, the council had told parliament that the results of their investigation would come out by the end of the month.

Instead, in early February the new board of the Contractors Council announced abruptly it was dropping the probe altogether. For its decision, the body cited the passage of time, and that pursuing the case eight years on would constitute an “abuse of process”, adversely impacting the legal rights of the companies.

Effectively this let the companies off the hook.

The matter was discussed extensively earlier this week at the House ethics committee.

Phedonos explained to us why his complaint to the police will include Etek.

“It has to do with Etek not taking any disciplinary action or sanctions against one of its members, Kyriacos Chrysochoos, a civil engineer. So they [Etek] are derelict in their duty.”

At the time of the Sapa affair, Chrysochoos was CEO of Nemesis – one of the implicated contractors.

He had stated in court that his company gave kickbacks to officials in exchange for landing contracts with the Paphos sewerage board. Prior to the trial, Chrysochoos and others had been arrested as a suspect, but he was released in December 2014.

According to Akel MP Irini Charalambidou, the companies implicated in the Sapa affair were: Medcon, Nemesis, Envitec SA, Loizos Iordanous Constructions Ltd-Alexandrou Joint Venture, Atlas Pantou, Iacovou Bros Ltd, and Awatech.

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