Paphos mayor digs deep into Aristo case

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Paphos Mayor Sav­vas Ver­gas said that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is con­tin­u­ing its probe into Aristo De­vel­op­ers and that it should have a list of all re­lated com­pa­nies some time on Wed­nes­day.

Ver­gas said that he has re­ceived full dis­clo­sure from the Regis­trar of Com­pa­nies and that the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s own au­dit ser­vice is in­ves­ti­gat­ing all pos­si­ble prop­erty deals re­lated to the de­vel­oper.

He added that this process in­volves “a num­ber of com­pa­nies” with 179 case files al­ready handed to the po­lice.

In the mean­time, for­mer Bank of Cyprus chair­man Theodoros Aris­tode­mou and his ar­chi­tect wife have ap­pealed the eight-day re­mand or­ders is­sued by the Paphos Dis­trict Court, with the company’s chair­man hos­pi­talised in Nicosia and Sotiroula Aris­tode­mou al­ready co­op­er­at­ing with the po­lice by giv­ing state­ments.

Two se­nior of­fi­cials from Paphos town hall were also ar­rested late on Thurs­day night and are fac­ing sim­i­lar charges of zon­ing vi­o­la­tions, al­leged prop­erty fraud and forgery in deals in the area of Skali – a re­tired mu­nic­i­pal en­gi­neer and the su­per­vi­sor of the mu­nic­i­pal land sur­veys depart­ment.

A fifth per­son was ar­rested on Tues­day, a 36-year-old Aristo em­ployee work­ing in the company’s plan­ning di­vi­sion, who is al­leged to have forged doc­u­ments re­lated to the spe­cific de­vel­op­ment.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion has re­vealed an ex­ten­sive case of al­leged land grab and changes in lo­cal sur­veys, such as ap­pro­pri­a­tion of stretches des­ig­nated for roads and green ar­eas, for a to­tal value ap­proach­ing 5-6,000 sq.m.

In the mean­time, Aristo is­sued a state­ment say­ing its founders were will­ing to co­op­er­ate with in­ves­ti­ga­tors and that this was all part of a fab­ri­ca­tion and that the truth will pre­vail.

The At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s of­fice has re­port­edly col­lected all Aristo prop­erty files in­volv­ing stretches ad­ja­cent to Paphos mu­nic­i­pal bound­aries dat­ing back to the year 2000.

This in­cludes the King’s Mall, the new multi-mil­lion Aristo de­vel­op­ment in Kato Paphos, where there are al­le­ga­tions that ar­eas des­ig­nated for green were changed to park­ing spa­ces.

Back in July, Paphos Mayor Sav­vas Ver­gas had tabled Aristo De­vel­oper’s file be­fore the mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil, propos­ing the ap­proval of zon­ing and build­ing per­mits for a to­tal of 177 plots for which the de­vel­oper had se­cured a de­mar­ca­tion per­mit.

The case was first brought to the at­ten­tion of the po­lice by a Paphos mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fi­cer. Ver­gas added on Tues­day that the al­le­ga­tions were sub­mit­ted by “a cit­i­zen”.

It sub­se­quently emerged that the plans for which the de­mar­ca­tion per­mits were is­sued were switched with new plans, which seemed to cede ap­prox­i­mately 4,000 sq.m. pre­vi­ously des­ig­nated as green space, back to Aristo, the news­pa­per re­ported.

Aris­tode­mou had de­nied any wrong­do­ing, ar­gu­ing that mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees, un­fa­mil­iar with reg­u­la­tions, had got their cal­cu­la­tions wrong.

Ac­cord­ing to Aris­tode­mou, the real gap be­tween the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s and his company’s cal­cu­la­tions does not ex­ceed 900 sq.m., and his company could not ben­e­fit from it un­der any cir­cum­stances since the Land Reg­istry rou­tinely spots such mis­takes and amends de­vel­op­ments ac­cord­ingly prior to is­su­ing ti­tle deeds.

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