The Republic of Cyprus is asking the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) for more information into a probe of misuse funds, following reports that stolen EU money was pumped into a casino project on the island.
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According to media reports, Attorney General Costas Clerides sent a letter to OLAF, asking for information after reports said a consortium in Europe without operational capacity to carry out an environmental project ended up diverting EU funds into an unnamed hotel-casino project in Cyprus.
The government spokesman called on political parties and their members to abstain from commenting on the issue, saying the funds in question did not involve the Republic of Cyprus
The Research Executive Agency (ERA) became suspicious of a project designed to improve forest fire detection that was expected to be run by a consortium of firms based in France, Ireland, Romania, and Spain.
But the initial funding application and subsequent progress reports were “based on lies and justified by false documents” according to OLAF, which completed its investigation in November 2019.
Government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos called on political parties and their members to abstain from commenting on the issue, saying the funds in question did not involve the Republic of Cyprus.
Spokseman points at casinos in the north
Koushos, who said Clerides had already requested information, cited preliminary information gathered by the government, suggesting a Turkish Cypriot casino in the north was possibly the subject of an investigation, adding that no Cypriot company was involved.
But according to Offsite, an online news blog in the south, OLAF sources told the news outlet that the investigation did not involve an established casino currently in operation.
OLAF hints at casino under construction
OLAF could not provide further details citing the nature of the investigation but also potential privacy violations, according to Offsite.
“Keep in mind the uncovered scam was not carried out in an established hotel or casino but it involved a project that has not yet been completed,” OLAF told Offsite according to the report.