A recent traffic accident has prompted police to widen a fraud investigation that began in Limassol and now has reached the capital, following revelations that foreign food delivery drivers in Cyprus were paying middlemen to secure driver permits through the state’s austere system.
Local media said a court case in Limassol has been filed for next month against a services agency owner, after allegations emerged that middlemen and insiders were involved in defrauding the government and extorting money from foreign nationals who sought driver permits.
A number of foreign nationals, who worked as food delivery drivers, were arrested in late March and early April after a Limassol city employee discovered irregularities in their applications through an agency to obtain or renew their driver’s permits.
Four Greek Cypriots, including the agency owner and a different city employee, as well as messenger service owner and an insurance agency owner, are facing charges from crimes committed between December 2022 and March 2023.
The case led investigators to Nicosia after a traffic accident raised suspicions about the driver who was found to have obtained a fraudulent license through the same illegal channels in Limassol
Local media said officials became suspicious after realizing 20 driver permit applications of foreign nationals had been submitted through middlemen to the same employee and had been approved despite document irregularities.
Three of the foreign suspects, who are expected to testify for the prosecution, have reportedly told authorities they had no knowledge of fraudulent information in their documents, telling investigators they had obtained driver permits in Limassol after paying certain individuals between €750 and €1000.
But the case recently led investigators to Nicosia, after a traffic accident in early April raised suspicions about the driver who was found to have obtained a fraudulent license through the same illegal channels.
According to Reporter, the same services agency owner facing charges in Limassol has been implicated in allegations of a fraudulent driver’s permit issued by Nicosia authorities.
The immigration status of the foreign suspects was not immediately clear but officials described their temporary documents had reached an expiration date.
Knews understands many asylum seekers in Cyprus, including foreign nationals formerly on student or work visas, have been dealing with red tape, processing delays, and prohibitive restrictions in obtaining a driver’s license.
Despite previous simplifications, official guidelines reportedly still instructed asylum seekers who wish to obtain or renew their driver permits to present an original pink slip showing legal presence in the Republic of Cyprus, a document no longer issued by the Immigration office for such purposes.
The suspected applications in Limassol reportedly included a yellow slip, often submitted by applicants who are married to EU citizens, but none of the suspects were married to European women while at least some of them have told police they had no knowledge of a fake MUE2 form submitted on their behalf.
Over a dozen persons or suspects are being sought by police in connection with the case.
While asylum seekers can seek and obtain lawful driver permits under conditions, a special team has been put together to investigate whether there are more delivery drivers who have obtained illegitimate licenses.
A court case in Limassol has been set for May 11.