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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-04-20

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, April 20, 1999

Ex-Bishop's lawyer ordered to pay $16 million to charity foundation

By Charlie Charalambous THE AMERICAN lawyer of the disgraced former Bishop of Limassol, Chrysanthos, has been ordered by a US court to pay $16 million to a charity foundation he defrauded in a get-rich-quick scheme. A US District Court judge last week ordered Washington lawyer Lewis Rivlin to pay the money after promising Ecuador's Fundacion Perez Pallares a 1,600 per cent return on its $1 million investment. Judge Royce C Lambert ordered Rivlin not only to make good his guarantee for the $1 million, but also the $15 million the foundation for poor girls believed it would earn on the money. Rivlin was acting on behalf of then Bishop Chrysanthos, who acted as guarantor for the investment. Following Rivlin's instructions, the foundation wired its money to Chrysanthos last year. The foundation was told that the former bishop had links to lucrative trading programmes that could multiply the initial investment within a 60- day period. However, the Greek bank account chosen by Chrysanthos was operated by a Greek businessman known only as Dr Zoudas. Rivlin in his defence said that the former bishop had been duped by Dr Zoudas and had hired fraud investigators to try and recover the money. The money is now frozen in Zoudas' account and is at the centre of legal proceedings under way in Greece. According to the foundation's lawyer, Larry Sharp, Rivlin has paid only $200,000 back to the charity. Last November, the Holy Synod accepted Chrysanthos' resignation amidst a mire of corruption allegations and suspended him from the clergy for two years. Chrysanthos' resignation followed an eight-charge Synod indictment accusing him of profiteering through currency speculation and corruption. The former bishop also faces legal proceedings for allegedly trying to defraud a UK-based investor of $3.7 million in a similar get-rich-quick scheme. Other cases being investigated include allegations that two Portuguese investors were swindled of $1.5 million by the former bishop. Police say they have received over 30 similar fraud allegations against the bishop.

Tuesday, April 20, 1999


  • [01] Reshuffle rumours are back
  • [02] Koutsou blames Vassiliou for collapse of centrist merger talks
  • [03] Viagra's in town
  • [04] Wedding bells despite the bombs
  • [05] Government accused of deliberate neglect of Philoxenia
  • [06] British tourist held after drug tussle
  • [07] Unions meet to co-ordinate bi-communal forum
  • [08] New High Commissioner to take office on May 11

  • [01] Reshuffle rumours are back

    By Martin Hellicar

    RESHUFFLE talk returned to centre-stage on the political scene yesterday after presidential advisor Alexis Galanos said President Clerides was about to make his move.

    Democratic Renewal party leader Galanos, who met the President yesterday morning, said Clerides would be forming a broad-based government after the conclusion of his "dialogue" with the parties.

    Clerides began his party talks last month with the aim of reaching consensus on key issues such as EU harmonisation legislation, privatisation plans, tax hikes and interest rates liberalisation. There is no fixed expiry date for the talks.

    Rumours of a reshuffle have been rife ever since junior government partners Edek jumped ship in protest at the President's controversial December 29 decision to bow to international pressure and redirect the S-300 missiles to Crete.

    Observers believe the government is in dire need of an image overhaul after the damaging S-300 climb-down and a string of sleaze scandals.

    Clerides was last month forced into a minor reshuffle after the resignations of Government spokesman Christos Stylianides and Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides. Stylianides left over the cabinet decision to clear Michaelides of persistent corruption allegations. Michaelides resigned in the face of these allegations - despite being cleared by state probes.

    Stylianides was replaced by Costas Serezis and Michaelides by Christodoulos Christodoulou, who moved over from the Finance Ministry. Takis Clerides took over as Finance Minister.

    If and when a full-scale reshuffle comes, favourites for the chop are rumoured to be unpopular ministers Christos Solomis (Health) and Andreas Moushiouttas (Labour).

    But Clerides's professed desire to form a broad-based government with ministers from all parties would appear to have little chance of being realised, as opposition party leaders have already made it clear they want no part in it.

    The President would thus be likely to try and choose ministers with no particular party affiliation in a bid to boost his government's popularity. Ruling Disy, however, will probably be pushing to maintain its almost complete domination of the cabinet.

    Tuesday, April 20, 1999

    [02] Koutsou blames Vassiliou for collapse of centrist merger talks

    By Martin Hellicar

    NEW HORIZONS leader Nicos Koutsou yesterday blamed George Vassiliou's United Democrats (UD) for the collapse of efforts to form a new broad-based Socio-democratic party.

    "The United Democrats never believed in this (merger) effort, and when specific issues started to be discussed, and specific decisions to be taken, they started to cause problems," Koutsou said at a morning press conference.

    An irate Koutsou said his party was now no longer interested in joining forces with anyone and would plough its own furrow.

    Last week, Edek, who have led efforts to form the new party, said they were excluding the New Horizons and UD from merger talks because Koutsou's and Vassiliou's parties could not bridge their foreign policy differences.

    Edek said they would be continuing merger talks with the Movement for Political Renewal and the Realignment Movement, but both these groups are political small fry.

    Centre-right Diko have since made an approach to Vassos Lyssarides's socialist Edek, but Spyros Kyprianou's party has given no indication of having abandoned its misgivings over the participation of the two movements in merger talks.

    Continuing his attack on the UD, Koutsou claimed Vassiliou's party had tried to exclude his party from merger talks by constantly bringing up the foreign policy issue. The UD favours attempts at reconciliation with the Turkish side, whereas Koutsou's party are hard-line nationalists. Edek have said both the UD and New Horizons were guilty of trying to exclude the other from the merger.

    Koutsou accused Edek of excluding his party and the UD without proper justification. The UD have already made it clear they consider merger efforts "dead" after the Edek decision to show them the door.

    Koutsou went further: "We are not going to have any talks whatsoever with any other party. We are not interested whether Edek-Diko contacts start or not. We are turning over a new leaf."

    Koutsou's party, like the Movement for Political Renewal and the Realignment Movement, have no house seats.

    The UD have two deputies, Edek five and Diko eight.

    Undeterred by the merger talks collapse, Edek states it plans to call the inaugural conference for the new party before the end of the year.

    Tuesday, April 20, 1999

    [03] Viagra's in town

    By Andrew Adamides

    THINGS are looking up for impotent Cypriots, as sex wonder-drug Viagra is now available - legally - on the Cyprus market.

    The small blue diamond-shaped pills, which have become a worldwide phenomenon since their first appearance last year, made their first official appearance on the island yesterday at a gala launch at Nicosia's Forum Intercontinental hotel.

    The pills, originally intended by makers Pfizer as a treatment for heart ailments, have been hailed across the globe as a miracle cure for impotence. Normal dosage is 50mg, but the pill is also available in 100mg and 25mg formats.

    The pharmaceutical board has warned that the pill will only be available strictly on prescription, and that the categories of doctors allowed to prescribe it will be limited. The Board has underlined that it is not a recreational drug, and should be used only by those who need it, taken sparingly (once a day at most) and without alcohol, as this can reverse its effect. Impotent men hoping that the pill will perk up their lives have also been cautioned that it only works if they are mentally sexually aroused.

    Importers Geo. Pavlides and Araouzos Ltd, also announced prices for the pills yesterday: four 50mg tablets will cost 26.91, while eight will cost 53.82. Four 100mg tablets will retail for 32.64, and eight for 65.29. The lower-dosage 25mg tablets, meanwhile will be 22.20 for four and 34.16 for eight.

    Viagra, a pop-culture phenomenon across the globe, has already spun its fair share of tall (and not so tall) tales in Cyprus. Stories of black market Viagra have been rife for months, while suggestions that Greece's preoccupation with the fall-out from the Ocalan affair might delay the Greek parliament's approval for the sale of Viagra to Cyprus proved unfounded. Cyprus' Viagra is coming through the Greek arm of Pfizer.

    Tuesday, April 20, 1999

    [04] Wedding bells despite the bombs

    By Jean Christou

    WEDDING bells rang out in Paphos on Sunday for American Steve Reese and his Serbian bride Tanja Tomanovic as their countries continued their unrelenting war over Kosovo.

    Catholic Reese, 31 from Maryland, and Orthodox Tomanovic, 23 from Belgrade, exchanged vows at a small church in Paphos. The simple ceremony was officiated by Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos.

    The bride was given away by a local mayor and two managers from the Azia Hotel where the coupled were staying acted as best man and best woman.

    The only guests were a group of locals and journalists interested in the couple's plight.

    They came to Cyprus to marry because neither could get a visa to the other's country and neither needed a visa to come here.

    "This is the best day of my life," Reese told reporters as he and Tomanovic emerged from the church.

    According to Reuters, a Cypriot family hugged them and handed them a pair of bed sheets.

    "This wasn't exactly what we planned, but now it seems that what we wanted was impossible," said Tomanovic, a law student.

    "It was even impossible for us to be together."

    Nato air strikes on Yugoslavia began while the couple were on a short holiday in Budapest. From there, they e-mailed the Azia Hotel, which they found on the internet.

    "When they e-mailed us we told them to come to Cyprus. It was the least we could do to help," said Antonis Papakyriacou, director of marketing at the hotel and best man.

    "I have travelled to Eastern Europe several times," Reese said, "and Tanja (has come) to the United States several times and now with the situation it would be difficult for Tanja to get a visa so we said we had to move our plans forward. Unfortunately our parents couldn't attend," Reese said.

    The couple will now wait for the American embassy in Nicosia to process Tanja's visa applications for the United States, which could take around five weeks.

    "We don't know where we will go. Maybe we will stay here, maybe we will move on,' Tomanovic said, adding she was angry at the Nato bombings, and worried for her family in Belgrade.

    "I feel angry and I feel scared. But I wouldn't like to discuss politics on a day like this," she said.

    Tuesday, April 20, 1999

    [05] Government accused of deliberate neglect of Philoxenia

    THE GOVERNMENT deliberately ran the Philoxenia hotel into the ground in order to excuse selling it off, opposition deputy Kikis Kazamias claimed yesterday.

    The House finance committee also heard yesterday that the Attorney-general had decided to order an investigation into allegations of scandalous goings on and mismanagement at the loss-making state-owned hotel.

    The Akel deputy told the committee both the government and the hotel board were guilty of "criminal" neglect of the Philoxenia.

    Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis told deputies nothing could be further from the truth.

    "I don't think anyone would try to destroy a company, making it impossible to sell. If, on the other hand, the government's intention was, as indeed it is, to get out of hotels then we had to do our utmost to make the hotel profitable so as to get the maximum price for it," he said.

    The cabinet has already decided to close down the Philoxenia in Nicosia and seek someone to run it, or use it to house a ministry if no one is found to take over. The government is also seeking to offload all or part of its stake in the Nicosia Hilton.

    Kazamias repeated the corruption claims that are already the subject for an investigation by the Auditor-general's office.

    The allegations are that relatives of hotel staff held weddings there for free; that mukhtars and other used its rooms for sex romps with mistresses and girlfriends; and that the hotel board - nicknamed the "Services Committee" - grew to its 10-member size due to party nepotism.

    Other claims are that 200,000 was wasted on renovation plans that were never used; that the bill for renovations grew from 300,000 to 900,000, with a 50 per cent cost overrun for other renovations raising the final cost to 1.5 million.

    Kazamias also said the cabinet had decided as long ago as 1992 that the Philoxenia should be upgraded but plans had never got off the drawing board.

    Rolandis said the persistent Philoxenia "scandal" reports had prompted Attorney-general Alecos Markides to order criminal investigators to probe the hotel's affairs.

    The minister also said the Philoxenia was simply not viable under its current management structure. "Seventy-two per cent of the hotel's income goes on the wage bill and it would need 2 million in renovations to allow it to continue functioning," he said.

    Diko deputy Tassos Papadopoulos protested that the Philoxenia had never been meant to be a profit-making concern, "not even in centuries." The hotel had been created as a training centre for hotel workers, he said. Where would trainee hotel waiters and porters learn their trade after the Philoxenia closed down, Papadopoulos wondered.

    Tuesday, April 20, 1999

    [06] British tourist held after drug tussle

    A 39-YEAR-OLD British tourist was remanded in custody for four days by a Larnaca court yesterday on suspicion of possessing and dealing drugs.

    Karl Joseph Westwood, from Bolton in Lancashire, was arrested by drug squad officers at an Ayia Napa pub on Sunday night following a tip-off.

    Police allege that, when they entered the Square Pub, the suspect was seen trying to swallow a piece of hashish after taking it out of his pocket.

    When officers tried to step in, Westwood allegedly assaulted them, and a tussle ensued as policemen and suspect grappled on the floor. Westwood sustained head injuries during the struggle when the hash was removed from inside his mouth, police said.

    When read his rights, Westwood allegedly told police: "the hash is for me."

    Early yesterday morning, a search of the suspect's holiday flat at the Ela Maris hotel in Protaras uncovered 17.5 grammes of hash, bringing the total find to 25 grammes.

    Police told the court yesterday that they had received information that suggested that Westwood was in possession of a quantity of cocaine when he arrived at Larnaca airport.

    Tuesday, April 20, 1999

    [07] Unions meet to co-ordinate bi-communal forum

    REPRESENTATIVES from unions on both sides of the Green Line met at the Ledra Palace yesterday to co-ordinate their organisation of the third All- Cyprus Trade Union Forum to be held next month.

    Officials from the Greek Cypriot unions Pasydy, Peo and Sek and from Turkish Cypriot unions Ktams, Turk Sen and Dev-Is took part in the meeting.

    The delegates discussed practical issues related to the forum, Peo representative Michael Papaefsthatiou said after yesterday's meeting.

    The forum is due to take place on May 28 and 29.

    It will focus on a review of developments since the last gathering in 1998.

    The trade union forums are designed to build confidence between the two sides and to help put in place a working system prior to an eventual solution based on a bi-communal bi-zonal federation.

    Contacts between the two sides have come to a virtual standstill since the end of 1997, when Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash called a halt to meetings in protest at the EU's decision to negotiate membership with Cyprus.

    Trade unionists are among the only people who still meet across the divide.

    Since the ban was imposed, more and more bi-communal groups are opting to meet abroad. Almost 50 such meetings have taken place in the past 18 months.

    Tuesday, April 20, 1999

    [08] New High Commissioner to take office on May 11

    THE NEW British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Edward Clay, is expected to take up his duties next month.

    According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Clay will take over of May 11. He will succeed David Madden, who has already left the island.

    Deputy High Commissioner John Buck met President Clerides yesterday to discuss details of Thursday's visit by British Minister of State at the Home Office, Joyce Quin.

    Quin's visit is believed to be part of British efforts to help move forward the stalled Cyprus negotiations as part of the promised "big push" from the British and the Americans.

    British High Commission spokesman Piers Cazalet told CNA Quin would be doing a lot of listening during her trip.

    "Obviously she is being well briefed in London, but she wants to see the key players again," he said. "She's met Clerides before, she was here a couple of years ago, but she wants the opportunity to meet the key players to take the temperature and to look at what Britain can do to help move the process forward."

    Quin will arrive in Cyprus on Thursday afternoon and will have a working breakfast with President Clerides on Friday.

    She will also meet Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Quin will be accompanied by British envoy for Cyprus, Sir David Hannay.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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