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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-09-17

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

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


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Friday, September 17, 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Afxentiou defends acquisition of Louis sharesBy Hamza Hendawi Business EditorCENTRAL Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou and Akel deputy Takis Hadjigeorgiou yesterday owned up to their acquisition of shares in Louis Cruise Lines through private placement, but insisted they had done nothing wrong.Afxentiou maintained that he did not get the shares on account of his position and that the outcry over the Louis private placement would not have existed had the share's value hovered around 60 or 70 cents.The Akel deputy, in a statement faxed to the Cyprus Mail, said he did not have the power or the political leverage to repay Louis for allotting him 10,000 worth of shares. Only the state machinery, he said, could affect the future of companies."I would like to add that even when I decided to make the application (at the end of April), I had no knowledge of the stock market and neither do I today."I conclude with the obvious that there has been a clear proof of the honourable way I acted in the fact that I registered the shares in my own name and not anyone else's," he wrote.Speaking to CyBC radio earlier yesterday, he said that Akel's stance was for a ban on Cabinet ministers accepting shares in private placements. "There is nothing unethical or illegal about anyone else getting them," said Hadjigeorgiou, who runs Akel's Astra radio.Communist Akel, the island's second largest political, responded with indignation to revelations last month that Disy and opposition Diko acquired hundreds of thousands of shares in Louis as part of the private placement.Harach Publications Ltd, which publishes the English-language weekly newspaper Financial Mirror, said yesterday that it had purchased shares in both initial public offerings and private placements as a "strategic investor" and "associate."Beside Afxentiou, Hadjigeorgiou and the Financial Mirror, those known to have received shares as part of the private placement are the Dias media group, which publishes the daily Simerini, former Communications Minister Lentios Ierodiaconou, Vassos Pyrgos, the Communications Ministry's permanent secretary, Director of Customs Andis Tryphonides, Panicos Pouros, director of the Finance Ministry's Planning Bureau, Costakis Christophorou, director of the House of Representatives, Michael Erotokritos, director of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Takis Kanaris, head of the research department at the Central Bank.Speaking on CyBC radio yesterday, Afxentiou, who has been at the helm of the Central Bank for more than a decade, pleaded for his rights as a citizen to be respected. He rejected the theory that civil servants were "second-class citizens" without the right to behave like their fellow Cypriots. And he accused his detractors of fabricating what he called "scandal scenarios" designed to defame both his own name and that of Louis.Rejecting the notion that he received 5,000 worth of shares on account of his position, Afxentiou said: "If the shares were valued today at 60 or 70 cents no one would have cared."The Louis shares, sold at 40 cents apiece in both the private placement and the IPO, hit three pounds on their first day of trade at the Cyprus Stock Exchange in early August. The share was forecast at the time to hit 5 in a matter of weeks but the dumping of tens of thousands of shares and warrants by two of the company's top executives pushed the price sharply down.Afxentiou said his own calculations predicted that the value of the Louis share would be between 60 and 70 cents, a surprisingly low forecast from the Central Bank Governor considering the hype and expectation which accompanied the share during the run-up to its market debut.Charges that Louis furnished those on the private placement list with preferential treatment, he said, were unfounded because this only became true when the share's value went up "by coincidence".Afxentiou said he had not contacted in person any Louis official to obtain his 5,000 worth of shares, but did not say whether he had formally applied for shares in the private placement.The name of Afxentiou's son, auditor Costas Afxentiou, also appears on the list of those who obtained shares through the private placement. He received 20, 000 worth of shares.Louis Cruise Lines, one of the world's largest cruise ship operators, has so far stuck to its line that it did not expect a return on its "gesture" toward politicians, political parties and senior civil servants.
  • [02] Court rejects video evidence of prison riot
  • [03] Aeroporos trial gets bogged down by new defence objections
  • [04] Cassoulides to represent Cyprus at Kranidiotis funeral
  • [05] US gives Cyprus the all-clear for Y2K
  • [06] Hospital clean-up threatens rare terrapin pond
  • [07] TUMBLEDOWN rocks on the Yermasoyeia to Arkounda road in the Limassol district
  • [08] Union complains Oncology centre doctors paid more than state colleagues
  • [09] Denktash 'depressed' over election prospects
  • [10] Romanians jailed for false passports

  • [01] Afxentiou defends acquisition of Louis sharesBy Hamza Hendawi Business EditorCENTRAL Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou and Akel deputy Takis Hadjigeorgiou yesterday owned up to their acquisition of shares in Louis Cruise Lines through private placement, but insisted they had done nothing wrong.Afxentiou maintained that he did not get the shares on account of his position and that the outcry over the Louis private placement would not have existed had the share's value hovered around 60 or 70 cents.The Akel deputy, in a statement faxed to the Cyprus Mail, said he did not have the power or the political leverage to repay Louis for allotting him 10,000 worth of shares. Only the state machinery, he said, could affect the future of companies."I would like to add that even when I decided to make the application (at the end of April), I had no knowledge of the stock market and neither do I today."I conclude with the obvious that there has been a clear proof of the honourable way I acted in the fact that I registered the shares in my own name and not anyone else's," he wrote.Speaking to CyBC radio earlier yesterday, he said that Akel's stance was for a ban on Cabinet ministers accepting shares in private placements. "There is nothing unethical or illegal about anyone else getting them," said Hadjigeorgiou, who runs Akel's Astra radio.Communist Akel, the island's second largest political, responded with indignation to revelations last month that Disy and opposition Diko acquired hundreds of thousands of shares in Louis as part of the private placement.Harach Publications Ltd, which publishes the English-language weekly newspaper Financial Mirror, said yesterday that it had purchased shares in both initial public offerings and private placements as a "strategic investor" and "associate."Beside Afxentiou, Hadjigeorgiou and the Financial Mirror, those known to have received shares as part of the private placement are the Dias media group, which publishes the daily Simerini, former Communications Minister Lentios Ierodiaconou, Vassos Pyrgos, the Communications Ministry's permanent secretary, Director of Customs Andis Tryphonides, Panicos Pouros, director of the Finance Ministry's Planning Bureau, Costakis Christophorou, director of the House of Representatives, Michael Erotokritos, director of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and Takis Kanaris, head of the research department at the Central Bank.Speaking on CyBC radio yesterday, Afxentiou, who has been at the helm of the Central Bank for more than a decade, pleaded for his rights as a citizen to be respected. He rejected the theory that civil servants were "second-class citizens" without the right to behave like their fellow Cypriots. And he accused his detractors of fabricating what he called "scandal scenarios" designed to defame both his own name and that of Louis.Rejecting the notion that he received 5,000 worth of shares on account of his position, Afxentiou said: "If the shares were valued today at 60 or 70 cents no one would have cared."The Louis shares, sold at 40 cents apiece in both the private placement and the IPO, hit three pounds on their first day of trade at the Cyprus Stock Exchange in early August. The share was forecast at the time to hit 5 in a matter of weeks but the dumping of tens of thousands of shares and warrants by two of the company's top executives pushed the price sharply down.Afxentiou said his own calculations predicted that the value of the Louis share would be between 60 and 70 cents, a surprisingly low forecast from the Central Bank Governor considering the hype and expectation which accompanied the share during the run-up to its market debut.Charges that Louis furnished those on the private placement list with preferential treatment, he said, were unfounded because this only became true when the share's value went up "by coincidence".Afxentiou said he had not contacted in person any Louis official to obtain his 5,000 worth of shares, but did not say whether he had formally applied for shares in the private placement.The name of Afxentiou's son, auditor Costas Afxentiou, also appears on the list of those who obtained shares through the private placement. He received 20, 000 worth of shares.Louis Cruise Lines, one of the world's largest cruise ship operators, has so far stuck to its line that it did not expect a return on its "gesture" toward politicians, political parties and senior civil servants.

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    Friday, September 17, 1999

    [02] Court rejects video evidence of prison riot

    A LARNACA court yesterday refused to view television footage of a cellblock disturbance that a senior policeman is charged with violently suppressing.

    The court ruled that a copy of the original footage of rapid response unit (MMAD) officers attacking boat people who rioted at the old Famagusta police station on October 23 last year was not admissible prosecution evidence.

    MMAD chief Charalambos Mavros, 49, is charged with negligently and deliberately allowing his officers to use excessive force in controlling the Arab and African detainees. He denies the charges and has publicly defended his actions.

    Yesterday was the first day of Mavros' trial before the Larnaca District court.

    A Press and Information Office cameraman told the court that the original footage from TV cameras at the scene had been copied because it could not, in its original format, be shown on an ordinary video.

    The court ruled that such copied footage was not acceptable as evidence.

    The original pictures, shown widely on news bulletins at the time of the disturbance, captured MMAD officers kicking prostrate rioters and weighing into them with batons.

    The 48 boat people, who had been held as illegal immigrants since their rescue off a Syrian fishing boat found drifting off Cyprus some four months earlier, had set fire to mattresses and blankets in their cells to demand asylum.

    The MMAD officers tossed tear-gas into the protesters' cells, forcing them out into the courtyard of the old police station before moving in on them.

    Mavros' trial continues next Thursday, when the court will hear testimony from the first of a number of boat people involved in the incident.

    Cameramen and reporters who witnessed the disturbance are also set to testify during the hearing.

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    Friday, September 17, 1999

    [03] Aeroporos trial gets bogged down by new defence objections

    By Martin Hellicar

    THE HAMBIS Aeroporos murder hearing entered the legalistic quagmire of its fourth "trial-within-a-trial" yesterday, with the defence once again challenging the admissibility of prosecution evidence.

    The lawyer for one of the five accused argued that information stored in the memory of a mobile phone found in the car abandoned by the hit-men at the scene of the December 16 gangland hit could not be used as evidence in the trial.

    State prosecutor Petros Clerides had asked witness Angelos Tengeris -- a mobile phone expert -- to turn on the device and read out from its memory the numbers of the phones used to contact the device in the hours before the killing. Clerides is trying to prove to the court that the accused conspired by phone.

    But George Georgiou, for the defence, told the Nicosia criminal court that the prosecution had failed to show that the device had been used systematically or was in proper working order at the crucial time. In the absence of such testimony, the information stored in the mobile phone could not, constitutionally, be admitted as evidence, Georgiou stated.

    Georgiou is defending hospital cleaner Zoe Alexandrou, who, along with her brother -- Limassol cabaret owner Sotiris Athinis, 43 -- is charged with conspiring to kill Hambis. Alexandrou, 51, has admitted the phone found at the scene of the crime is hers, but both she and her brother deny the conspiracy charges.

    Georgiou also argued that the prosecution would have to produce evidence that the whole telephone system was functioning normally on December 16.

    He also put it to the three-judge bench that anything Tengeris read from the screen of his client's mobile phone would be hearsay, and thus unacceptable as evidence.

    "If the prosecution witness were a typewriter technician would he be able to appear before the court to read a text typed in his absence and which he was seeing for the first time?" the defence lawyer argued.

    The prosecution asked for time to prepare its reply to Georgiou's arguments. The court set the next hearing for Tuesday, further postponing a trial that has been ongoing for almost three months now.

    The defence has thrice previously challenged the admissibility of prosecution evidence, forcing side-trials. The court overruled the defence objections each time, but the delays to trial progress had a part to play in the surprise confession of one of the accused hit-men, waiter Prokopis Prokopiou, 35.

    A few weeks into the trial, Prokopiou stood up to tell the court that he was tired of the long-drawn out procedure, and wanted to admit that he had pulled the trigger on 36-year-old Hambis. He also said the two policemen on trial along-side him were innocent.

    Policeman Christos Symianos, 35, and special constable Savvas Ioannou, alias Kinezos, 33, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Aeroporos.

    Prokopiou is to be sentenced at a later date.

    Three hooded hit-men gunned Hambis down in broad daylight as he drove home from the Limassol hospital where he was receiving routine treatment for wounds suffered during an earlier suspected gangland hit, in June 1995.

    Hambis' murder is thought to be part of an ongoing turf war between rival underworld gangs vying for control of lucrative gambling, prostitution and drugs rackets.

    The bloody feud shows no sign of letting up. Twelve days ago, trial suspect Athinis, who is free on bail, was lucky to survive an anti-tank missile attack outside his Limassol cabaret. Four men are being held in connection with the attack.

    Hambis's younger brother, Andros, 32, was gunned down outside Limassol's Show Palace cabaret in July 1998.

    Just eight weeks earlier, Aeroporos brothers Hambis, Andros and Panicos, 26, had been acquitted of the May 1997 attempted murder of Larnaca gambling club owner Antonis Fanieros.

    The Hambis murder trial was moved to Nicosia for fear of reprisals against the suspects. Armed police are out in force for every hearing.

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    Friday, September 17, 1999

    [04] Cassoulides to represent Cyprus at Kranidiotis funeral

    THE CYPRUS government will be represented at the funeral today in Athens of Greece's Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis by Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides.

    Also travelling to Athens will be House President Spyros Kyprianou and representatives of all the political parties.

    Kranidiotis, 51, his only son Nicolas, 23, and four others died when the plane they were travelling in plunged thousands of feet in an air pocket prior to landing at Bucharest Airport late on Tuesday night. Seven others, mostly journalists accompanying Kranidiotis on the official trip, were injured.

    The government on Wednesday declared three days of national mourning for Cypriot-born Kranidiotis as flags flew at half mast on all public buildings.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday that President Clerides, who is on his way to New York to address the UN General Assembly, could not go to Athens to attend the funeral.

    "The president is on a national mission," Papapetrou said.

    "He has specific political commitments which would have to be postponed if he was to attend the funeral; therefore it was considered not right to upset this programme."

    Papapetrou said yesterday that all of Cyprus was crushed by the death of Kranidiotis and that a void had been created by his passing.

    Kranidiotis had been at the forefront of efforts in Europe to resolve the Cyprus problem and to assist the island in its accession course towards the European Union.

    A book of condolences has been opened at the Greek embassy in Nicosia and will remain open until after the funeral.

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    Friday, September 17, 1999

    [05] US gives Cyprus the all-clear for Y2K

    CYPRUS is generally well prepared to deal with Y2K disruptions, but the regime in the north is not, a US State Department report has said.

    The report said it was difficult to predict the severity or duration of Y2K- related disruptions.

    "US citizens in Cyprus should take practical precautions, anticipate the potential for disruption to their daily activities and be prepared to cope with the impact of such disruptions," it said.

    Y2K, more commonly known as the millennium bug, which is expected to hit non-compliant systems on January 1, can disrupt essential services through computer malfunctions.

    The State Department said that in countries which were unprepared, Y2K could affect financial services, utilities, health services, telecommunications, energy, transportation and other vital services.

    "With increased attention to correcting Y2K problems in food storage and fuel distribution and the lack of Y2K compliance by some private companies, the potential risk of disruption in Cyprus will be low by year's end," the report said.

    It stresses, however, that this information applies only to the southern part of the island under control of the government of Cyprus.

    "Little is known about Y2K compliance in the northern third of the island and some disruptions can be expected," the report said.

    Possible problems in the north have also been mentioned by Britain as part of its list of progress in 50 countries around the world.

    The Republic of Cyprus however is not mentioned on the list as a problematic area.

    The government and private sector in Cyprus are optimistic that everything will run smoothly on January 1.

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    Friday, September 17, 1999

    [06] Hospital clean-up threatens rare terrapin pond

    By Martin Hellicar

    RARE wild terrapins hanging on in a small natural pool behind Nicosia's general hospital could have their habitat wiped out by a municipality "clean-up" operation.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou says the stagnant pond, in a thicket in the bed of the Pedhiaios river, constitutes a health hazard.

    In a written response yesterday to an earlier complaint about the pool from Edek deputy Takis Hadjidemetriou, Christodoulou assures that the pool is regularly sprayed with pesticide.

    "The Nicosia municipality, being aware of the seriousness of the problem, recently decided to carry out a clean-up of the relevant section of the river," the minister adds.

    The government Environment Service's wildlife expert, Miroulla Hadjichristoforou, was dismayed to hear of the municipality's plans yesterday.

    "We will contact the municipality to give them instructions (to ensure the terrapins are not effected)," Hadjichristoforou told the Cyprus Mailyesterday.

    The expert also expressed concern about the pesticide spraying, noting that it could adversely effect the rare fresh-water reptiles.

    The terrapins, Mauremis caspica, are an indigenous species that have suffered greatly through loss of wetland habitat and are now endangered and protected by law.

    Hadjichristoforou said they still survived in a number of riverine sites, the location of which was a closely guarded secret -- to avoid collection for the pet trade.

    The Environment Service has plans to include a number of terrapin sites on a list of wildlife habitats to be protected under the EU's Natura 2000 conservation programme.

    <title>TUMBLEDOWN rocks on the Yermasoyeia to Arkounda road in the Limassol district</title> A:hover {color: #800000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    Friday, September 17, 1999

    [07] TUMBLEDOWN rocks on the Yermasoyeia to Arkounda road in the Limassol district

    TUMBLEDOWN rocks on the Yermasoyeia to Arkounda road in the Limassol district, loosened by last month's earthquake, were yesterday secured with a wire mesh net.

    The government had originally thought to reroute the road, fearful of possible rock-falls. But in the end a wire "safety net" was deemed sufficient insurance against disaster, and Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou was on site yesterday to see abseilers manoeuvring the mesh into place.

    Christodoulou went on to government refugee estates in the Limassol suburbs of Linopetra and Ayios Athanasios to inspect ongoing repair work there.

    In the wake of the August 11 tremor, the government pledged to invest 50 million over five years in making ageing refugee housing, put up in a hurry after the 1974 invasion, quake-proof.

    Disastrous quakes in Turkey and Athens, coming on the tail of the local tremor, have heightened public concerns about building safety in the event of a major tremor.

    The August 11 quake, centred just north of Limassol, caused structural damage to many homes but did not result in any serious injuries or loss of life.

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    Friday, September 17, 1999

    [08] Union complains Oncology centre doctors paid more than state colleagues

    GOVERNMENT doctors are up in arms over the fact that their colleagues at the newly opened Oncology Centre are getting paid more than them.

    An announcement from the government doctors union, Pasyki, said yesterday that, "keeping in mind the generous agreement that was signed between the government and the Bank of Cyprus for the establishment of the Oncology Centre and the provision that calls for the government to pay for the Centre's running costs, either in the form of a yearly budget or with the method of purchasing services, (the union) considers that the salaries of the government doctors that have been appointed to the Centre are larger than those of corresponding doctors at government hospitals. We are against this discrimination and ask for corresponding treatment to avoid unnecessary conflicts in the sensitive health sector."

    The statement adds that the Union finds it unacceptable that heads of hospitals such as the Nicosia or Limassol generals, "with a higher work load and responsibility," should be paid less than the head of the Oncology Centre, who's salary the union put at over 50,000 per year.

    The Union said it had information that the Bank was subsidising a proportion of the salaries, claiming this was being done "under the table" and would give the Bank the right to have a say in the hiring of staff.

    "The government's consent to these types of arrangements is incomprehensible, " Pasyki said, "because it creates unequal conditions in the treatment of government doctors."

    The announcement cited occasions where public servants provided their services to international organisations and were paid by the government. Pasyki said that when such organisations had offered to pay the employees' fees, the government had refused saying that it would cause a negative precedent; in the case of the Oncology Centre, it continued, "the extra fee (an unknown amount) is allowed to be given by the Bank of Cyprus."

    Pasyki said they were demanding a rise in salaries at all levels

    to correspond with those at the Oncology Centre.

    The agreement between the Bank of Cyprus and the government was for the Bank to set up the Centre but for the government to pay its running costs, including doctors' salaries.

    Bank of Cyprus representatives were unavailable for comment on the union claims yesterday.

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    Friday, September 17, 1999

    [09] Denktash 'depressed' over election prospects

    TURKISH Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash is totally depressed over his prospects in the 'presidential' elections next April, a Turkish Cypriot paper reported yesterday.

    According to a report in Birlik, Denktash has concluded from his own opinion polls that he stands no chance of winning the election.

    "Rauf Denktash could not conceal his fears, even in New York," the paper said.

    Denktash said in New York that he would discuss 'Prime Minister' Dervis Eroglu's bid for the 'presidency' -- which could see the hard-line politician would becoming the Turkish Cypriot community's interlocutor for the Cyprus problem.

    Birlik

    said that when he was in Ankara recently, Denktash had said that he was not ready for the elections because he had "neither a party nor an organisation".

    Commenting on Denktash's statements, political observers told the paper that Denktash was "totally depressed" because of the fear of losing the elections.

    The observers also said his attempts to complain about his election rivals to Ankara were "childish and meaningless" and that by doing so he would be trying to reenact the old scenarios.

    Denktash's statements on not having a party of his own have been interpreted in the north as knocking the Democratic Party (DP), the party he set up with his son Serdar as leader.

    "This is tantamount to admitting that the DP has withered away," the paper said.

    [10] Romanians jailed for false passports

    FOUR Romanian men were jailed for 15 months yesterday for possession of forged Hungarian passports, with intention of travelling to Ireland to work.

    Defendants Beniamin Pop, 39, Dumitru Illisou, 30, Viorel Chira, 39, and Andrian Ioan Miresan, 32, were arrested on arrival at Larnaca airport when officials noticed the passports were forged.

    The prosecution told the court the men had paid hundreds of dollars to acquire the passports with which they had travelled from Budapest to Larnaca. They were planning to fly on to Dublin next.

    The four Romanians were arrested on September 7 by immigration officers during a routine passport check.

    Passing sentence, Judge Nicos Santis said such offenses were on the rise and posed a threat to society.

    Entering Cyprus by deceiving the authorities was an abuse of hospitality, and the imposition of such punishments would act as deterrent, he said.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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