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16 June, 2024
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Paphos mayor alleges ETEK negligence in SAPA fallout

Phedonos demands answers in parliamentary probe

Marios Christofi

Fresh revelations have emerged in the ongoing SAPA scandal following intense scrutiny in the Parliamentary Committee on Institutions. This inquiry delved into allegations of multi-million-euro bribery involving both individuals and contracting firms, a case adjudicated by the Paphos Criminal Court back in 2014.

Despite the court's verdict, the Council of Registration and Control of Contractors, alongside ETEK, have maintained a passive stance for over eight years, allowing alleged wrongdoers to evade accountability. Paphos Mayor Phedon Phedonos has taken a proactive stance by urging a thorough investigation and reporting potential negligence to law enforcement. In a notable show of support, Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades, a former council member, defends Phedonos' actions, asserting the legality of prior council decisions.

Chronology and "short circuit" - Vafeades responds to Phedonos

Transport Minister Alexis Vafeades stands resolute in his defense of decisions made during his tenure at the Council of Registration and Control of Contractors, all of which were legally sound. Dismissing Mayor Phedonos' allegations, Vafeades stresses the importance of evidence before passing judgment on any council.

The timeline of events reveals a meticulous process initiated in June 2015 with the appointment of an investigator, whose findings were submitted in February 2016. Subsequent indictments were meticulously prepared and delivered to the accused, with hearings commencing individually on November 28, 2016. Despite 35 hearings conducted between November 28, 2016, and December 31, 2018, legal maneuvers by company representatives prolonged proceedings, preventing any conclusive rulings. Notably, in 2017, three technical directors opted for removal from the council's register.

However, the succeeding council, inaugurated in 2019, opted to suspend disciplinary procedures for undisclosed reasons. It wasn't until August 2021 that a newly appointed council resumed investigations. However, in January 2024, after 17 sessions, the council unanimously opted to halt disciplinary measures against six of the eight defendants due to procedural irregularities and unwarranted delays.

Plans for expedited proceedings

To preclude future procedural bottlenecks, Vafeades pledges to introduce legislation streamlining council procedures for swifter deliberations and equitable justice dispensation.

Phedonos: Allegations against ETEK and Council of Contractors

During the recent committee session, Mayor Phedon Phedonos reiterated his call for a thorough reinvestigation and revealed plans to report ETEK and the Council for possible dereliction of duty. Phedonos criticized the council's justifications for the nine-year delay, emphasizing administrative turnover as a feeble rationale. While expressing sympathy towards Transport Minister Vafeades, Phedonos holds him partially accountable for the case's unresolved status. Additionally, he highlighted the instance of Elektor, convicted yet still entrusted with managing Larnaca's landfill.

Demetriou: Seeking meeting minutes

Committee President Demetris Demetriou outlined plans to request meeting minutes dating back to 2015 to assess the council's decision-making process for future reference.

Companies with criminal involvement awarded public contracts

In a startling revelation, Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides disclosed that companies embroiled in criminal proceedings are still awarded public contracts. He cited the case of Cyfield, securing the bid for Nicosia Municipal Theatre, linked to Nemesis implicated in SAPA. Despite legal consultations confirming the distinction between Cyfield and Nemesis, Michaelides underscored the necessity for vigilant oversight. He also cited the Metropolitan case, where a bid unfavorable to the state was inexplicably greenlit by Parliament. Addressing energy sector concerns, Michaelides promised a comprehensive report on the matter.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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