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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 98-09-19

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, September 19, 1998


  • [01] Michaelides in the dock
  • [02] Michaelides: 'I have absolutely nothing to hide'
  • [03] Michaelides scandal: the charges
  • [04] Clerides jets off to New York
  • [05] Greenpeace hails hotel court ruling
  • [06] Denktash will 'prove' Greek Cypriots don't want federation
  • [07] Greek spokesman ridicules Turkish demands
  • [08] Hilton administration 'categorically denies' charges
  • [09] Growing support for Cyprus membership among EU public
  • [10] Icons stolen from Peristerona church
  • [11] Unions slam ports boss for talking down the sector

  • [01] Michaelides in the dock

    By Charlie Charalambous

    INTERIOR Minister Dinos Michaelides was yesterday accused by Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides of having become a multi-millionaire through bribery and corruption in office.

    After weeks of rumour and suspicion, Pourgourides finally went public yesterday, naming Michaelides as the minister at the centre of his corruption enquiry.

    The stunning revelation was made public after the deputy submitted evidence concerning alleged corrupt practices against the minister to President Clerides yesterday morning.

    "The interior minister and members of his family only owned a small amount of immovable property when he took office," Pourgourides told a parliamentary press conference in Nicosia.

    "Apart from this property, Michaelides, over recent years, has acquired property worth millions, either personally or through members of his family."

    The politician estimates the wealth that the minister has amassed by illegal means at well over 2 million.

    "I'm convinced from what I have uncovered that he (Michaelides) did not obtain this wealth by legal means," said Pourgourides.

    Michaelides has denied all the allegations of corruption, saying that Pourgourides is involved in a slur campaign with the help of opposition parties wanting to bring the government down.

    "I will answer all the allegations one by one," Michaelides told reporters yesterday after also meeting the president.

    "The aim of the allegations is to bring about my political extermination," the minister added.

    Michaelides also suggested that his former Diko boss, Spyros Kyprianou, was behind an orchestrated campaign to run him out of office.

    Pourgourides has denied that his motives in accusing Michaelides are political.

    Relations between Kyprianou and Michaelides have become increasingly acrimonious since the minister backed Clerides in the presidential election campaign and was subsequently expelled from Diko.

    Although Michaelides suggested he would resign immediately if there was any truth to the allegations, he insisted the evidence against him was just slander.

    "Just because somebody shouts his mouth off all over Cyprus about a minister, does that mean this minister should resign?" an angry Michaelides told reporters yesterday.

    Pourgourides said he had carried out his investigation in his capacity as House Watchdog Committee chairman after a close friend and colleague of the minister made a series of allegations against Michaelides.

    "The first charge concerned a road widening project in Limassol. It was alleged that the road suddenly narrowed so as not to affect the garden and property owned by the minister's wife... My own investigation confirmed this," said Pourgourides.

    Among the allegations, Pourgourides charges the minister with accepting plush apartments as a gift in return for securing government tenders for contractors.

    Michaelides is also accused of having illegally obtained property worth millions both at home and abroad, allowing building relaxation for financial gain, issuing hundreds of residence visas for kickbacks and not declaring the true value of his property to avoid payment of duties and property transfer tax.

    Nevertheless, Michaelides responded to the list of accusations with a hint of sarcasm.

    "If Mr Pourgourides has misunderstood his mission and thinks he's Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes that's his business."

    On Wednesday, the anti-corruption politician made shock revelations that he was the target of mafia death threats because of his efforts to expose the allegedly crooked minister (whom he had not named at that time).

    "I'm certain that many of those telling me to look for bombs under my car are not doing it because they love me," Pourgourides told CyBC radio on Wednesday.

    Pourgourides suggested that the minister he was investigating had underworld connections and was using these contacts to persuade him to stop his campaign.

    Following the alleged death threats, the deputy has been given police protection on the order of Justice Minister Nicos Koshis.

    In additional claims made against Michaelides, the politician said he had strong evidence that property had been obtained in the UK by illegal means.

    "All I need is verification that this minister obtained property in the most expensive street in London and this enquiry continues," said Pourgourides.

    Michaelides has been Interior Minister since 1993, apart from a short period last year, when his former party Diko withdrew from the government alliance three months before the Presidential elections in February of this year.

    It is understood that the list of accusations given to Clerides will now be handed over to Auditor-general Spyros Christou for further examination.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [02] Michaelides: 'I have absolutely nothing to hide'

    By Charlie Charalambous

    IN A SHOW of supreme confidence yesterday evening, Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides said his hands were clean, his bank accounts empty and his conscience clear.

    Following 14 allegations of corruption made by Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides earlier in the day, Michaelides composed his initial anger to dismiss the accusations against him.

    "The allegations are a lie, they are unjust and a gross mistake," said Michaelides at a press conference from his ministry office in Nicosia.

    "I have absolutely nothing to hide or fear. What I have acquired has been done by legal means.

    "Everything I or my family have acquired can be accounted for, and this will be checked by the Auditor-general."

    He also categorically denied owning huge mansions in fashionable areas of London and other parts of the UK.

    "I have no property in England: the only property I have is in Cyprus, not London or anywhere else in the United Kingdom."

    Pourgourides claimed the Interior Minister had illegally acquired an exclusive property in the most expensive area of London, Bishop's Avenue in Hampstead, dubbed 'millionaires Row'.

    "I have no house in Bishop's Avenue, which indeed is expensive, but I won't resign just because someone says I have property there."

    With the extent of the corruption accusations, and facing intense media pressure on the minister, Michaelides even had to explain that his Limassol home was not a mansion worth 600,000.

    "I do not have any huge wealth, other than my home in Yermasoyia which cost around 250,000.

    "If I was offered 600,000 I would sell it straight away. It only has three bedrooms, a kitchen and an office," Michaelides said with a smile.

    According to Michaelides, the house was built in 1990, before he became a minister in the Clerides government in 1993.

    Journalists were invited to visit his home if they were in any doubt about his less than palatial surroundings.

    "Anyone who wants to visit is welcome."

    The minister flatly stated that he had not received luxury flats from building contractors such as J&amp;P for favours rendered.

    "I never received any kickbacks or gifts from J&amp;P or Zachariades," said Michaelides.

    "Yes, I bought the Gulf Palace apartment in 1989 from J&amp;P in Limassol for the sum of 50,000 but 30,000 of this money was via a mortgage and loan guarantee."

    Michaelides also conceded that he did have a 20 per cent share in Gala Development Ltd, which he said was financed by a loan from the Bank of Cyprus.

    And he dismissed further allegations that the wealthy Kirzis family had offered him discount prices on an office building because he in turn had pulled some strings in government.

    He pointed out that as minister he may have been able to secure loans for any investments or business deal, but this did not constitute a crime.

    "Any public figure may have a better chance of securing a bank loan than any other citizen, but this is not illegal."

    Michaelides described Pourgourides' anti-corruption crusade as based on "personal and political criteria" not any notion of cleaning up public life.

    And the minister hit back at the deputy, claiming Pourgourides had a personal grudge against him because he had denied him favours to enhance his business interests as a practising lawyer.

    "He (Pourgourides) wanted a license for a cabaret agent which I could not allow," said Michaelides.

    On the political front, Michaelides suggested that Pourgourides was furious after the minister refused to join forces with him to topple Clerides in his bid for re-election.

    During the counter attack against Pourgourides, Michaelides said the person who had gone to the deputy to spill the beans was someone he had "financial differences" with.

    "I have had no contact with this person since 1983. I know Pourgourides is his lawyer and we are involved in a business dispute," said Michaelides during the hour-long press conference.

    Keeping on the offensive, the minister said it was Pourgourides who should resign as deputy if his accusations are proved false.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [03] Michaelides scandal: the charges

    LISTED below are the charges brought by House Watchdog Committee chairman Christos Pourgourides against Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides:

    1. Michaelides built a mansion in Kalogyrou in Limassol over the past few years valued at over 600,000. He did not take out a loan to finance the construction.

    2. He also bought another mansion in the Kalogyrou area in the name of his daughter. This appears to have been bought with a loan for an amount approximately half its value.

    3. The J&amp;P company gave him an apartment next to the Londa Hotel in Limassol allegedly in exchange for services he carried out for them in connection with the construction tender for the Nicosia to Limassol motorway.

    4. In the Gulf Palace luxury apartments building, also built by J&amp;P in Limassol, Michaelides owns an apartment for which the purchase price as given to the Land Registry office is significantly less than its actual value.

    5. The Zachariades group gave Michaelides an apartment on the Limassol beachfront, allegedly in return for services rendered.

    6. In the Flamingo Tower bulding, also owned by the Zachariades group, Michaelides has an apartment; again, the price stated to the Land Registry Office was much lower than the actual value.

    7. Michaelides and the Galatariotis company bought property near the church of Ayia Napa in Limassol for which Michaelides paid 100,000. Investigations revealed that a piece of land was bought near the church by a company called Gala Investments Ltd. worth 724,000. This was divided into two plots, one valued at 600,000, the other at 124,000. Molvi Estates Ltd, a company owned by Michaelides' family, is a shareholder in this company, with 150,000 shares.

    8. Allegedly in return for services carried out by Michaelides, the well- known Kirzides family of Limassol sold him offices at a very low price. The deal was done through Molvi Estates, and the offices were bought for around 100,000.

    9. A piece of property in Paphos, one-fourth owned by Michaelides' wife, was valued at 1,000,000, but the sale of it was logged at 450,000. Investigations revealed that the property had really been bought for 900, 000 and that a fake document was given to the Land Registry Office.

    10. In the Louvaras area, a certain person has bought a large amount of land. Michaelides apparently holds the papers relating to the land. However, the person who made this charge does not know what kind of papers these are.

    11. In London, Michaelides has a large fortune, and property, but the investigations into this have not been completed. The property is understood to be in Bishop's Avenue in Hampstead, dubbed 'millionaire's row'.

    12. After a payment to his Limassol office, Michaelides allegedly approved visas allowing visitors into Cyprus without even looking at immigration office files.

    13. After a company bought land in the Paphos Sea Caves area for 900,000, Michaelides effected a zone change, resulting in the company making millions of pounds of profit.

    14. A road in Mesa Yeitonia in Limassol was to be built to a certain width, but was narowed to avoid affecting the garden of a house beloning to Michaelides' wife.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [04] Clerides jets off to New York

    At 6pm yesterday, President Glafcos Clerides jetted off for New York, where he is to address the United Nations general Assembly.

    In statements made at Larnaca International Airport just prior to his departure, Clerides said that one of the reasons for his trip was to evaluate the prospects for debating the Cyprus problem at the General Assembly. But he added that whether or not this would take place would not depend wholly on the opinion of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    Clerides said that during their recent meeting in Durban, he and Annan had discussed the issue of an initiative by the UN boss and has agreed that the matter would be discussed again in New York.

    Cordovez has also invited the UN's permanent representative in Cyprus Dame Ann Hercus to attend his meetings with Clerides. It is possible that the organisation's special Cyprus Advisor Diego Cordovez will also attend.

    In addition to Annan, Clerides will meet with representatives of the five permanent members of teh UN Security Council, and US Emissary on Cyprus Richard Holbrooke. The president is accompanied on his trip by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, Government Spokesman Christos Styllianides and representatives from political parties. He will address the General Assembly on Monday 28 and return to Cyprus the next day.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [05] Greenpeace hails hotel court ruling

    By Jean Christou

    THE INTERNATIONAL environmental pressure group Greenpeace has welcomed the decision by a Supreme Court to declare the Thanos Hotel in the Akamas illegal.

    A statement by Greenpeace described the ruling as an "historic precedent" and a major step toward having the Akamas declared a National Park.

    "This decision is consistent with recent developments towards the protection of the Akamas peninsula and its declaration as a National Park according to the World Bank report," said Irene Constantinou, Greenpeace Mediterranean campaigner in Cyprus.

    Earlier this year, the House voted for a recommendation from the Environment Committee accepting the World Bank report for the protection of the Akamas in line with Greenpeace and other environmentalists' demands.

    "The court decision proves that Greenpeace and other environmental groups were right in saying that hotel development is illegal in the Akamas and this it is definitely not beneficial to the local communities, the environment and Cyprus as a whole," Greenpeace said.

    However Attorney-general Alecos Markides said on Thursday that the only reason the Court had ruled the Thanos building permit invalid was because there were people present at the cabinet meeting granting the necessary relaxations who should not have been there.

    Markides said there was no reason why the cabinet could not again grant the same building relaxations originally granted to Thanos by the government for the luxurious Anassa complex.

    Thanos hotels is owned by the family of former Foreign Minister Alecos Michaelides. He was forced to resign form government after months of negative publicity in Cyprus and abroad stemming from the cabinet's decision to allow the building in the environmentally sensitive.

    On Wednesday, Supreme Court Judge Frixos Nicolaides ruled that because town planners and other public servants were present at the cabinet meeting in question, the ministers' decision on the Thanos approval was invalid.

    Markides said that was the only factor which rendered the decision void.

    Greenpeace said it was appealing to the government to back the decision of the Supreme Court by declaring the Akamas a national park in line with the World Bank report.

    "It is time that the Akamas issue was resolved once and for all," Greenpeace said.

    Thanos Hotels is expected to file an appeal against the court decision.

    The case against the hotel chain was filed in April 1996 by the Technical Chamber Etek, which challenged the original cabinet decision.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [06] Denktash will 'prove' Greek Cypriots don't want federation

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has put together a document that he says "proves" that the Greek side does not want federation, Turkish Cypriot newspapers reported yesterday.

    He plans to give the document to anyone who asks why the Turkish Cypriots refuse to continue negotiations on the basis of a federation, the papers added.

    Denktash revealed the existence of the document after a meeting with senior British Foreign Office Official Peter Ricketts on Thursday.

    Denktash repeated that confederation was the only basis on which negotiations could continue.

    For his part, Ricketts, who earlier on Thursday met with President Glafcos Clerides, said Britain still believed the solution to the Cyprus problem could only be found through intercommunal talks.

    The Turkish press reports also claimed that during his statements after the meeting, Ricketts referred to the Turkish Cypriot leader as "President Denktash."

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [07] Greek spokesman ridicules Turkish demands

    TURKISH demands for the abolition of the joint Cyprus-Greece defence pact are completely unreasonable, Greek Government Spokesman Demetris Reppas said yesterday.

    Such demands did not help efforts for the normalisation of Greco-Turkish relations, he said, adding that as Turkey had occupied Cyprus, it was ridiculous for Turkey to express fear over Cypriot defence initiatives.

    Commenting on British Defence Minister George Robertson's recent proposal for a moratorium on military overflights in Cyprus, Reppas said that both Greece and Cyprus "have exhausted all limits of good faith" on the matter.

    Both had, he went on, put forward a series of proposals to help defuse the Cyprus situation, "but unfortunately, Turkey's stance has been absolutely negative."

    This was he said, something everybody dealing with the Cyprus situation should take into account. "If they wish to contribute, they must direct their efforts to Turkey through the appropriate way." Repas added.

    Referring to the upcoming joint Cyprus-Greece military exercises, Nikiforos and Toxotis, Repas said these would go ahead as scheduled. Asked if Greek warplanes would be taking part, he declined to make any exact statement, saying only that "what happened in the past will be repeated."

    Previous joint exercises have included the participation of Greek warplanes.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [08] Hilton administration 'categorically denies' charges

    THE COMPANY that operates the Nicosia Hilton yesterday announced that its administrative council "categorically denies every charge", in relation to rumours of improper use of funds during recent renovations.

    The president of the Cyprus Tour Development Company's administrative council, Andreas Kaisis, on Thursday met with the council to discuss the matter and announced his intention to resign in protest at the allegations

    He said that his decision had been prompted by personal attacks against him.

    But council members opposed Kaisis' decision to resign, expressing their complete confidence in him.

    Kaisis eventually agreed to remain in his position until the annual General Assembly on September 30.

    He will, however, not be standing for re-election, though he stressed this was because had accepted a position in Greece, not because of the scandal.

    A statement issued by the company said it was at the disposal of Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Nicos Rolandis, who will be investigating the charges.

    Rolandis on Wednesday confirmed that investigations would soon be under way on information the Ministry had received that money was allegedly improperly used during multi-million pound renovations at the luxury hotel, which is 80 per cent government-owned.

    Renovations initially budgeted at seven million pounds are understood to have ended up costing 16 million.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [09] Growing support for Cyprus membership among EU public

    FORTY-SIX per cent of Europeans support Cyprus' entry to the EU, a six per cent overall rise since the last such survey a year ago.

    For the 11 applicant countries, support was highest for Hungary with 53 per cent, Poland 49 per cent and the Czech Republic 48 per cent, followed by Cyprus.

    Support for all the applicant countries was highest in Denmark and Sweden, but there were exceptions. Finnish people were more inclined to support Hungary with 69 per cent, while Cyprus predictably received the most support, 85 per cent from Greece.

    The majority of support in all countries went to the six applicants with whom accession negotiations have already started, and in all six cases support has increased over he past year.

    Over half of EU citizens believe the bloc's institutions need reform, and that the Euro has to be in place before new countries can join.

    Quite a few are also concerned about the economic implications of enlargement. Over 45 per cent of EU citizens believe that enlargement will cost their own country more money. The Dutch, the Danes and the Germans are particularly inclined to feel that way, according to the survey.

    Thirty-five per cent of those asked also believe that enlargement will lead to higher unemployment levels. This concern is most widespread in countries that border with potential new members like Austria, Germany and Greece.

    According to the survey, the proportion of 'don't knows' to all questions is substantially higher that is usually the case in such surveys, "which indicates that public opinion still has not fully developed and most likely will change as the issue becomes more of a reality for people".

    The top criteria for EU membership, in the opinion of most of those questioned, were respect for human rights, tackling organised crime and drug trafficking, protection of the environment and a country's ability to pay its share of the EU budget.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [10] Icons stolen from Peristerona church

    THIEVES have made off with priceless icons from a church in the Nicosia district village of Peristerona.

    The robbery took place at the church of the Apostle Barnabas and Saint Hilarion some time between 9.20 pm on Thursday and 5.15 am yesterday morning.

    Two large icons - one of the Virgin Mary and one of the Apostle Barnabas - and six or seven smaller ones were taken. The icons were described as being of "immeasurable historic value".

    Police are making inquiries and have alerted ports and airports of the theft to prevent the icons from being smuggled abroad.

    Saturday, September 19, 1998

    [11] Unions slam ports boss for talking down the sector

    WORKERS unions Peo, Sek, Pasydy, Sylak and Deok yesterday slammed Ports Authority Chairman Dinos Erotocritou, blaming him for the sorry state of the ports industry.

    Announcing the results of a Thursday meeting with staff at Limassol port, the unions referred to recent statements by Erotocritou, during which he complained specifically about overstaffing and discussed his ideas for transferring the authority's central offices from Nicosia to Limassol.

    The unions said that the statements were designed to paint a deliberately "ugly" picture of the economic sector and allow Erotocritou to escape his own responsibilities.

    This was not the first time he had made such statements, they added, saying such a negative portrayal was directly responsible for driving some shipping lines away from Cyprus.

    Accusing Erotocritou of being little more than a "bystander" during events, the unions said that since he was incapable of taking decisions, they had decided to hold a general meeting for staff.

    They also called on the Ministry of Communications and Works to take measures to avoid negative developments in the situation.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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