Cyprus police have been keeping on the down low an investigation into alleged irregularities involving imported damaged vehicles, with reports saying a state employee’s vehicle was torched after he blew the whistle on a suspected illegal network amid government efforts to take lemons off the street.
In 2020 it emerged that transport ministry officials were getting serious pushback from groups opposing a new guideline that would require car damage history to be disclosed to prospective buyers of used vehicles.
But in recent months things turned ugly after a whistleblower’s actions drew attention including a secret police investigation.
According to daily Politis, police have been secretly investigating a complaint for the past six months after a transport department administrator reported higher up that he had collected evidence of wrongdoing with the department.
Politis reported that a woman’s arrest this week on fraud charges was linked to a case, where titles of almost brand new imported vehicles were being issued by the state’s transport department after damage history was expunged from the record.
An arrest this week on fraud charges was linked to titles of imported vehicles issued by the state’s transport department after damage history was expunged from the record
“An employee or employees of the Road Transport department appear to have been issuing car titles for those vehicles without any mention anywhere that they were imported to Cyprus as damaged or almost disassembled,” the report said.
Police on Friday morning did not immediately confirm the woman’s detention on fraud charges but Politis said she was remanded for three days while more arrests could follow.
But another shocking incident came to light on Friday after Transport Minister Yiannis Karousos told state radio that his office would support employees who discover and report wrongdoing.
Karousos was referring to a male employee who met with the minister after the administrator’s two vehicles were recently torched, with Politis saying police were investigating arson.
“My office and the state will stand by his side and all employees who report wrongdoing, not simply as individuals but simply for doing their job,” Karousos said.
Police declined to comment but told Knews car arson incidents were no longer included in daily reports, citing a recent policy change. A communications officer clarified that a report could be made public typically on a number of arson incidents combined but not individually unless or an attack may involve a more serious crime.
Karousos says the transport worker would be compensated by the state for the loss of his two vehicles, which were destroyed completely in the arson attack outside the civil servant’s residence.
The minister also went on to remind members of the public and prospective buyers that they can purchase a car history report on any vehicle through a reputable agency.
Politis said officials at the road transport department have been instructed to keep agents out of the building, with reports suggesting the instructions came from the top.