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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-08-29

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>


Saturday, August 29, 1998

CONTENTS

  • [01] New allegation against Limassol bishop
  • [02] Bishop: no stone left unturned, police pledge
  • [03] Lombard-Alpha deal is `set for next month'
  • [04] Police praise gave-a-go hero
  • [05] Turkey needs to change, says Euro-Left leader
  • [06] Philoxenia and Conference Centre privatised in '99
  • [07] $150,000 guarantee, so plane finally leaves
  • [08] Missiles: Akel `about-face' is under fire
  • [09] `Pay up' plea from in-debt sewage board
  • [10] Congress letter prods Clinton on Cyprus
  • [11] Consumers `held to ransom' over water'

  • [01] New allegation against Limassol bishop

    By Athena Karsera

    BISHOP Chrysanthos of Limassol has been accused by the former president of the ecclesiastical committee of the city's Mesa Yitonia area of malpractice relating to the sale of church land.

    Takis Demetriou told CyBC TV news last night that he had not signed a document the Electricity Authority, which purchased the land, claims was signed and sealed by the ecclesiastic committee's president.

    "I didn't put one signature. I didn't put one seal on this document, as they are claiming," Demetriou said. "I don't know what happened... I was there for 28 years. I never saw a seal of Prodromou Church (to which the land belonged)."

    Demetriou was recently dismissed from the committee by Chrysanthos.

    The document gives the Electricity Authority the committee's permission to take control of the land. It also confirms the sale price as 1.4 million, payable to the Limassol Bishopric. Chrysanthos's signature is also on the document.

    Responding to Demetriou's claims last night, Savvas Teklos, Secretary of the Ecclesiastical Committee, told CyBC the Bishop had temporarily appointed him as president of the Committee so that the papers could be signed.

    "Somebody told him (Demetriou) to sign the papers and seal the papers and he said he wouldn't sign."

    Teklos said that according to church law, Chrysanthos had the right to appoint a new president if he wanted to.

    Bishop Chrysanthos is currently the focus of investigations into a series of cases involving alleged multi-million-pound investment scams.

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [02] Bishop: no stone left unturned, police pledge

    By Charlie Charalambous

    NO stone will be left unturned in the widespread probe into Limassol Bishop Chrysanthos' business dealings, warned police chief Andreas Angelides yesterday.

    Angelides dismissed suggestions that the ongoing police investigation would slowly but surely be wound down, without any end result.

    "President Clerides has given strict instructions to the police that no stone should be left unturned in the investigations against the bishop," said Angelides. He was quick to dispel any notion that police were just going through the motions by operating a long-winded and toothless enquiry.

    "We are doing our job correctly and carrying out an in-depth investigation. We are in continual contact with the Attorney-general who will decide if there is a case to answer," said Angelides.

    The police chief made it clear that it wasn't only the Bishop Chrysanthos, but also his alleged partners, who were under the spotlight. "Nobody will be let off the hook," insisted Angelides. "Whoever is involved will be brought to justice, those are our instructions."

    Chrysanthos is allegedly implicated in a series of cases involving multi- million pound investment scams. Earlier this week Attorney-general Alecos Markides confirmed that the bishop was a "suspect" in a $3.7 conspiracy to defraud case in the UK.

    Although the avalanche of fraud allegations laid at the bishop's door has made his position, among the Church's elite, seem ever more precarious, Archbishop Chrysostomos said his seat on the Holy Synod was still secure.

    "I met with the bishop yesterday and we talked about the problems that have arisen, but I did not invite him to resign, this is pure fantasy of reporters," said Archbishop Chrysostomos, before leaving for Bucharest yesterday.

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [03] Lombard-Alpha deal is `set for next month'

    By Hamza Hendawi

    NEGOTIATIONS on the takeover of the island's Lombard NatWest Bank by a leading private Greek bank are still in progress and a final deal is likely to be announced as early as next month, Lombard NatWest's General Manager Andreas Demetriades said yesterday.

    Speaking to the Cyprus Mail, Demetriades praised the performance of his bank, the fourth largest in Cyprus, but declined to say how much Greece's Alpha Credit Bank was prepared to pay for the 75 per cent stake in the bank held by Lombard North Central Plc, a member of Britain's giant NatWest Group.

    "The price remains under negotiation. If I mention a rough figure the press will get stuck on it," Demetriades said. Media reports published this week put the price at between 35 million and 40 million. Sources close to the negotiations said that private Cypriot investors holding the remainder would be offered a price proportionately similar to that given to Lombard.

    "Lombard NatWest is probably the most profitable bank in Cyprus and the most efficiently run. Its ratio is also among the best," Demetriades declared.

    Lombard NatWest Bank, which is not listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange, controls about five per cent of the local retail banking market. It has 24 branches and posted pre-tax profits of 3.22 million in the year ending September 1997.

    The bank, drawing on the massive resources of the NatWest Group, is known to be particularly strong in corporate banking and foreign currency management. It is also active in the island's lucrative offshore sector.

    The Central Bank of Cyprus' go-ahead for the takeover was given during a recent visit to the island by Alpha Credit Bank's Chairman, Ioannis Costopoulos, who also held talks with Lombard NatWest's Chairman, Michael Colocassides, in Nicosia.

    Some economists and bankers on the island have privately spoken with regret of the proposed takeover, which would end British retail banking on the island. Lombard NatWest is the last British bastion after Hellenic Bank bought Barclays' onshore operations in 1996.

    But Demitriades, who confirmed that the bank's 300 staff had been reassured of their future employment after the takeover, said most of the products and services offered at present would be retained after Alpha Credit takes control. NatWest is pulling out from retail markets outside the UK as a matter of policy, he added.

    The Financial Mirror, the island's English-language business weekly, reported on Wednesday that Alpha Credit Bank planned to seek a listing on the Cyprus bourse for its acquisition and that Cypriot investors were not likely to sell their stake in Lombard NatWest to Alpha, in the hope that the takeover would boost operations and profit. "Alpha has a lot of plans for its operations in Cyprus after the takeover," said a source close to the negotiations.

    The question of seeking a listing on the Cyprus bourse after the takeover had not yet been discussed, said one of the sources. But it was pointed out that Alpha and its subsidiaries in Greece were listed on the Athens Stock Exchange, suggesting that such a move could not be ruled out.

    An investment analyst attached to one of the island's leading banks struck a note of caution regarding Alpha's plans in Cyprus.

    "When the National (Ethniki) Bank of Greece came to Cyprus several years ago, there was much fanfare surrounding its arrival and future plans," he told the Cyprus Mail. "It was not long before the bank settled comfortably into a low profile existence in Cyprus."

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [04] Police praise gave-a-go hero

    By Athena Karsera

    A KITI, Larnaca, man who pursued a hit-and-run driver and made a citizen's arrest was yesterday presented with a plaque to mark his bravery.

    At a special ceremony, Police Chief Andreas Angelides awarded the plaque to Panayiotis Evangelides, aged 24.

    Angelides commended Evangelides on his actions: "I am proud, as chief of police and as a citizen, to congratulate you and express my respect for this action which shows you are a man of substance."

    Angelides went on to express his hope that more people would follow Evangelides' example. Evangelides commented that he "only did what had to be done".

    Anastasios Kyprianou, 45, father of three young children, was knocked down by a driver on Sunday and died soon after. The hit-run driver left the scene without stopping, despite pleas by his passenger. Evangelides, an eye- witness to the accident, pursued the vehicle, eventually making a citizen's arrest and taking the driver to Oroklini police.

    Larnaca court later remanded the driver for six days, after hearing that he smelled strongly of alcohol and had refused to take a breathalyser test.

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [05] Turkey needs to change, says Euro-Left leader

    By Andrew Adamides

    MANY Turkish politicians understand the need for Turkey to withdraw from Cyprus if their country is to retain credibility in Europe, Jaako Laasko, Chairman of the European Left, said yesterday.

    Speaking at a press conference in Nicosia marking the end of the group's two-day meeting in Cyprus, Laasko said that although he felt the Turkish government realised this, it should be made clear that there was "a distinction between the government of Turkey and some members of parliament."

    From the Turkish government itself, Laasko said, he was "not seeing any positive signs." But he said many Turkish people thought there should be a general change in the country's policy, not just on Cyprus but on human rights and the Kurdish issue as well.

    "We think that Turkey is a part of Europe and that's why Turkey must act according to European law and regulations." Laasko concluded.

    He assured journalists that his group would do all it can to help bring about "the reunification of the island."

    Speaking at the same time, Doros Christodoulides, Cyprus' representative in the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, thanked Laasko for his comments and said the fact that the Left had chosen to hold their conference in Cyprus illustrated its solidarity with the island.

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [06] Philoxenia and Conference Centre privatised in '99

    By Athena Karsera

    PLANS for the privatisation of the Philoxenia Hotel and the International Conference Centre in Nicosia were announced yesterday by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Nicos Rolandis.

    Rolandis described the functioning of the two establishments as "problematic". It was reported that Philoxenia Hotel had profits totalling only 19,000 in 1996, and that if it had not been for government subsidies a loss of 50,000 would have been reported.

    Rolandis blamed losses on the fact that no necessary renovations have been made to the hotel in recent years. He continued that renovations now would cost two million pounds.

    Legislation on the privatisation of the Philoxenia Hotel and the International Conference Centre has been at the House of Representatives since 1995 and is expected to be ready in the next few months.

    According to Rolandis, the privatisation should take place by February 1999.

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [07] $150,000 guarantee, so plane finally leaves

    THE Tupolev plane held at Paphos airport since August 10 finally arrived home in Kazakhstan yesterday after its owners offered a $150,000 bank guarantee in its place.

    The plane, owned by Kazakh company Sayakhat Ltd., was prevented from leaving by a court order brought against the company by local company, United Perlite Industries, which claimed that Sayakhat owed them over $300, 000.

    United Perlite's lawyer, Nicos Clerides, told the Cyprus Mail that the plane was flown out on Wednesday afternoon after the Kazakh company brought the guarantee amount into the country and lodged it with the Bank of Cyprus.

    He said the court case against Sayakhat would continue.

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [08] Missiles: Akel `about-face' is under fire

    By Jean Christou

    RULING party Disy yesterday accused opposition Akel of changing tack on the controversial Russian missile deal.

    Right-wing Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades said that while his party is satisfied with the results of President Clerides' contacts in Athens, communist Akel appears to have done an about-face.

    He said the opposition parties have never before publicly expressed their opposition to the deal, or claimed that President Clerides acted impulsively.

    "When did they (Akel) ever publicly declare their disagreement," Anastassiades said. "They never disagreed with the Greek and Cypriot governments' decision on the missiles."

    Neither had Akel voted against the budget for the missiles at the House of Representatives, said Anastassiades. "If they felt it was a bad move then they should have voted against it and explained to the people why," he said. "Instead of saying that if Iacovou (Akel's presidential candidate) was elected, he would bring the missiles even sooner."

    Akel General Secretary Demetris Christofias disagreed. He said an experienced politician like Clerides should not have brought Cyprus to such a situation.

    "If the decision is taken to bring the missiles, there will be the possible threat from Cyprus' enemies and, of course, the continuation of pressures in Cyprus and Greece and our isolation (from the international community)," Christofias said. "If they don't come, there will be the pay-back of damaging Cyprus' sovereign right to arm itself."

    Christofias said he had publicly declared that the decision on the announcement of the missiles was wrong, and that the timing of the announcement should have been discussed first.

    The plans to bring the missiles were announced in January, 1996.

    Defending the decision, Anastassiades questioned whether there has been any progress on the Cyprus issue in the past 24 years. "Where did we get to? What concessions did the Turks make? Were there `missiles' at Troutbeck or Montreux? Was there ever any shift in Turkish intransigence?," Anastassiades said.

    The controversial missiles are due on the island in November. At a meeting between President Clerides and Greek Prime Minster Costas Simitis in Athens on Thursday, both leaders insisted the deployment would go ahead as planned.

    Greece also reaffirmed its pledge to back Cyprus militarily in the event of a strike by Turkey over the missiles.

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [09] `Pay up' plea from in-debt sewage board

    By Athena Karsera

    THE Limassol Sewage Board yesterday appealed to the government to pay bills it owes totalling over one million pounds.

    And, at a press conference in Limassol, the board again drew attention to the Limassol hotel industry's continuing refusal to pay the four million pounds it owes.

    Limassol mayor, Dr Dimitris Kontides, asked the government and hoteliers to face their responsibilities, even at this late stage, in order to prevent the sewage board from collapsing, with dire consequences to Cypriots and tourists alike.

    The board also referred to the government's reluctance to pay the costs of a processor, which they had previously agreed to fund. The press conference was told that this had left the board responsible for paying annual costs of about 150,000 a year, for the past three years.

    The Director General of the Sewage Board, Iakovos Papaiakovou, presented the board's financial report for 1997, which confirmed the board's grim financial situation. Sewage Board debts total over 34 million.

    The results of a study carried out by Cypronet, a Limassol-based organisation, were also presented. This showed that 97 per cent of the 500 people questioned believed that Limassol sewage works should be expanded.

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [10] Congress letter prods Clinton on Cyprus

    FORTY-NINE Congress members have called on US President Bill Clinton to show more aggression in America's diplomatic efforts on behalf of Cyprus.

    In a letter dated June 25, and made public yesterday, the Congress members said Turkish preconditions for the resumption of peace talks were "unrealistic and unacceptable". They said they were "incensed by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash's intransigence".

    The US response to his demands was "insufficient" given their "absurdity", the letter said.

    It also underlines the fact that a Cyprus solution "will also strengthen peace and stability in the volatile Eastern Mediterranean and significantly advance our national security interest in the region and beyond".

    Although it commended Clinton for his support and commitment so far on the Cyprus problem, the two page letter concluded that in order to "take advantage of this limited aperture for a resolution, the US must be more aggressive in its diplomacy".

    Saturday, August 29, 1998

    [11] Consumers `held to ransom' over water'

    By Martin Hellicar

    CONSUMERS are being held to ransom because of the government's incompetent water planning policy, a pressure group claimed yesterday.

    The Consumers Association (CA) blasted a government proposal to hike the price of water, brandishing it as "unthinkable and unacceptable."

    With dams almost bone dry, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous has suggested upping water charges as one way to encourage consumers to be frugal. In a letter to the minister, the association charged that the government is making consumers pay the cost for the water shortage.

    "The Consumers' Association fully understands the seriousness of the drought problem... but we totally disagree with the planned increase in the price of water, which will have the opposite effect to that desired.

    "Under the circumstances, the planned rise in the price of water is uncalled-for and will bring the opposite results than those desired."

    The association added that the rise in the price of a basic necessity such as water, at a time when there is a shortage, does not give any credit to the state "which is being seen as acting like an unscrupulous business".

    "It will also encourage similarly greedy businessmen to raise the price of bottled water and so make a profit on the backs of the public," the association said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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