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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-10-03

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

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


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October 3 1999

CONTENTS

  • [01] Markides using century-old law in LCL corruption probeBy Anthony O. MillerATTORNEY-GENERAL Alecos Markides is using a 100-year-old British law, later adopted by the Republic, to vastly expand his criminal probe of the Louis Cruise Lines (LCL) share offering."The investigation concerns everybody, all people which come under this section," Chapter 161, of The Statute Laws of Cyprus, Markides told The Sunday Mail.To determine "whether somebody comes under this section or not, you have to read the definition of ‘agent’" in Chapter 161, he said, adding: "The section is wide enough to include everybody."That chapter generously defines ‘agent’ as "any person employed by or acting for another and any person serving under the Crown or under any public body".Officially known as ‘The Prevention of Corruption Law’, the statute further broadly defines "public body" to include "local and public authorities of all descriptions".Markides said the original British law dates from 1899. It became Chapter 161 of Cyprus statute law -- British Common Law was similarly adopted -- in 1960, when Cyprus became independent from Britain.Chapter 161 provides for two- to seven-year prison terms or a fine of up to £500, or both, for each conviction of an offence under it by ministers, civil servants and others working for the government or for semi-governmental entities (‘agents’). But it is not necessarily limited to them.It bars these ‘agents’ from corruptly acquiring or agreeing to acquire for themselves or anyone else (including in-laws) "any gift or consideration" (defined as anything of value), either as a bribe or a reward for doing or not doing "any act" that concerns the affairs of that agent's "principal" (employer, whether government or semi-governmental).The law also bars these same ‘agents’ from showing or not showing favour or disfavour to anyone regarding the affairs of that same "principal" vis- à- vis the "consideration" in question. And it further bars anyone from giving or agreeing to give anything to "any agent" to influence that agent's official acts.Finally, Chapter 161 outlaws all deception by anyone, in or out of government, where the government is concerned. This includes, for example, covering-up a minister's stock ownership by transferring title -- ostensibly or otherwise -- to an in-law.Key to this ancient law's application, Markides said, is its "presumption of corruption" when there is proof that "any money, gift or other consideration" changed hands connected to someone's "holding or seeking to obtain" a government or semi- governmental contract.The law does not define "corrupt, corruptly or corruption," Markides acknowledged. "That is left to the normal rules of interpretation," he said, "namely: one should open a dictionary. Perhaps the Oxford English Dictionaryis the best."Markides also said he doubted whether anyone convicted under Chapter 161 could have a verdict overturned on the grounds that its "presumption of corruption" unconstitutionally makes a person prove that any "consideration" involved was innocently given or taken, versus the usual "presumption of innocence" in criminal law."Presumptions are commonplace in law, notwithstanding the finer presumption of innocence," he said, adding: "The presumption in certain cases is quite justifiable."Markides has already met at least twice with investigators from the economic crimes section of the police. They are doing the leg-work in his corruption probe into the August 3 share tender by Louis Cruise Lines, part of the huge Louis Group.His probe was sparked by disclosures that the LCL private stock placement provided dirt-cheap LCL shares to at least one minister, members of Parliament, several top civil servants, at least two political parties, and top Central Bank officials.These include now-retired Communications & Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou and his Permanent Secretary Vassos Pyrgos, Akel MP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou and his Research Department chief Takis Kanaris, ruling Disy Party and opposition Diko Party, Director of Customs Andis Tryphonides, Finance Ministry Planning Bureau Director Panicos Pouros, Commerce Ministry Director Michael Erotokritos, and House of Representatives Director Costakis Christoforou.The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) is also conducting a wide-ranging probe into the LCL share tender, specifically as to possible collusion and preferential treatment involving Louis executives.The SEC said it also wants laws barring the kind of short-term stock sales engaged in by Louis Managing Director Stelios Kiliaris and LCL Secretary Spyros Syprides.Both men acquired small fortunes in Louis shares at their rock-bottom offering price of 40 cents apiece. Then, when the share price soared to its high of £3.50 apiece on August 3, both men respectively sold off 80,000 and 62,000 shares.The pair made huge profits, but stock brokers and market watchers said their share-dumping hurt market confidence in the LCL issue, causing its share price to plunge to a second-day close of £2.75 and a worse third- day close of £2.12.With the stock exchange closed now for four weeks, and a fifth week looking likely, it is anyone's guess what a share of LCL stock is worth today in the market. What is certain, however, is that a very few people made a huge profit when LCL went public.Meanwhile, Afxentiou last week sent a circular around the Central Bank cautioning employees there not to buy shares. The circular said he too would refrain from buying stock. It did not mention his LCL private-placement purchase.Politisnewspaper reported on Friday that Central Bank board members already have thousands of shares worth millions of pounds in commercial banks in Cyprus, in violation of Public Law 48 of 1963, which was promulgated when the Central Bank was founded.That law says Central Bank Board members "cannot be advisers, officers or employees of another bank, or have shares which have control of any other bank or financial operation in Cyprus," Politissaid, quoting from the law's text.It said Afxentiou's circular made clear that Central Bank employees violating the law by buying shares would suffer the consequences. The circular was not any more specific.Central Bank Board member Constantinos Damtsas, who Politissaid has extensive Bank of Cyprus share holdings, was quoted by the paper as declaring: "This also happens overseas. There is no conflict of interest."
  • [02] Stock Exchange to reopen tomorrowBy Athena KarseraTHE CYPRUS Stock Exchange will reopen tomorrow, its board of directors announced last night, but brokers with unfinished paperwork will not be allowed on the trading floor.The board apologised to investors for the closure, the third since July, which has tied up billions of pounds in investment capital because of the thousands of transactions that have not been formally cleared by the exchange.Between tomorrow and October 11, transactions will take place for only one hour a day, from 10.30 to 11.30am, the board said. This will leave the rest of the day for brokers to try to clear up their backlogs of unfinished orders.From tomorrow, brokers’ offices will also demand either stock titles or cash, depending on the case, before each transaction is carried out, the board said.In addition, all transactions conducted by telephone will be tape-recorded, and all those made in person will be done in writing, the board said.The Stock Exchange’s doors have been shut since September 3, when an avalanche of paperwork caught up with brokers, causing gridlock on the trading floor and precluding taking on any new business.The current closure is the third since July, when it shut for two days for brokers to catch up on unfinished paperwork. It then closed again for a full week in August for the same reason. On neither occasion did brokers clear their paperwork.Finance Minister Takis Klerides said yesterday that at the last count, there were 13 brokers who would not be allowed on the trading floor when it reopens because of unfinished paperwork.The bourse's three closures may mean it is already too late to prevent an exodus of foreign investors or regain the confidence of domestic punters, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis has conceded."A lot of damage has been caused. I have been told that foreign investors have already started preparing to sell up and leave. I believe we have already lost them," Rolandis said this week, adding that most domestic investors were also worried.The latest closure has tied up billions of pounds in investments whose paperwork did not clear over the summer. Before the latest closure, the benchmark index had surged over 360 per cent.
  • [03] Suspected jewel thieves arrested at airport
  • [04] Nikiforos 99 gets under way
  • [05] Police probe threat against president’s daughterPOLICE said yesterday they are investigating an alleged threat against the life of the President's daughter Katy, who is also a deputy in the House of Representatives."Whenever a threat against someone's life is reported we investigate it," a police source told The Sunday Mail, adding that no arrest had been made in connection to the incident.Police said that the issue seemed to be a mixture of drunken bravado and misunderstanding and that the suspect would probably not face charges.Concerned Limassol pub patrons had called the police on Friday night when one of their drinking buddies said he would kill Disy's Katy Clerides after she had failed to act on a complaint he had made several months before.The unnamed 33-year-old army reservist had been carrying a National Guard issue G3 rifle, as he was due to take part in the Nikiforos military exercise which began yesterday.Police said Clerides is currently overseas and so was not in any danger, but they still dispatched officers to her Nicosia home as a precaution.
  • [06] US puts positive spin on Ecevit Cyprus talks
  • [07] Work on power lines to affect traffic

  • [01] Markides using century-old law in LCL corruption probeBy Anthony O. MillerATTORNEY-GENERAL Alecos Markides is using a 100-year-old British law, later adopted by the Republic, to vastly expand his criminal probe of the Louis Cruise Lines (LCL) share offering."The investigation concerns everybody, all people which come under this section," Chapter 161, of The Statute Laws of Cyprus, Markides told The Sunday Mail.To determine "whether somebody comes under this section or not, you have to read the definition of ‘agent’" in Chapter 161, he said, adding: "The section is wide enough to include everybody."That chapter generously defines ‘agent’ as "any person employed by or acting for another and any person serving under the Crown or under any public body".Officially known as ‘The Prevention of Corruption Law’, the statute further broadly defines "public body" to include "local and public authorities of all descriptions".Markides said the original British law dates from 1899. It became Chapter 161 of Cyprus statute law -- British Common Law was similarly adopted -- in 1960, when Cyprus became independent from Britain.Chapter 161 provides for two- to seven-year prison terms or a fine of up to £500, or both, for each conviction of an offence under it by ministers, civil servants and others working for the government or for semi-governmental entities (‘agents’). But it is not necessarily limited to them.It bars these ‘agents’ from corruptly acquiring or agreeing to acquire for themselves or anyone else (including in-laws) "any gift or consideration" (defined as anything of value), either as a bribe or a reward for doing or not doing "any act" that concerns the affairs of that agent's "principal" (employer, whether government or semi-governmental).The law also bars these same ‘agents’ from showing or not showing favour or disfavour to anyone regarding the affairs of that same "principal" vis- à-vis the "consideration" in question. And it further bars anyone from giving or agreeing to give anything to "any agent" to influence that agent's official acts.Finally, Chapter 161 outlaws all deception by anyone, in or out of government, where the government is concerned. This includes, for example, covering-up a minister's stock ownership by transferring title -- ostensibly or otherwise -- to an in- law.Key to this ancient law's application, Markides said, is its "presumption of corruption" when there is proof that "any money, gift or other consideration" changed hands connected to someone's "holding or seeking to obtain" a government or semi-governmental contract.The law does not define "corrupt, corruptly or corruption," Markides acknowledged. "That is left to the normal rules of interpretation," he said, "namely: one should open a dictionary. Perhaps the Oxford English Dictionaryis the best."Markides also said he doubted whether anyone convicted under Chapter 161 could have a verdict overturned on the grounds that its "presumption of corruption" unconstitutionally makes a person prove that any "consideration" involved was innocently given or taken, versus the usual "presumption of innocence" in criminal law."Presumptions are commonplace in law, notwithstanding the finer presumption of innocence," he said, adding: "The presumption in certain cases is quite justifiable."Markides has already met at least twice with investigators from the economic crimes section of the police. They are doing the leg-work in his corruption probe into the August 3 share tender by Louis Cruise Lines, part of the huge Louis Group.His probe was sparked by disclosures that the LCL private stock placement provided dirt-cheap LCL shares to at least one minister, members of Parliament, several top civil servants, at least two political parties, and top Central Bank officials.These include now-retired Communications & Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou and his Permanent Secretary Vassos Pyrgos, Akel MP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou and his Research Department chief Takis Kanaris, ruling Disy Party and opposition Diko Party, Director of Customs Andis Tryphonides, Finance Ministry Planning Bureau Director Panicos Pouros, Commerce Ministry Director Michael Erotokritos, and House of Representatives Director Costakis Christoforou.The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) is also conducting a wide-ranging probe into the LCL share tender, specifically as to possible collusion and preferential treatment involving Louis executives.The SEC said it also wants laws barring the kind of short-term stock sales engaged in by Louis Managing Director Stelios Kiliaris and LCL Secretary Spyros Syprides.Both men acquired small fortunes in Louis shares at their rock-bottom offering price of 40 cents apiece. Then, when the share price soared to its high of £3.50 apiece on August 3, both men respectively sold off 80,000 and 62,000 shares.The pair made huge profits, but stock brokers and market watchers said their share-dumping hurt market confidence in the LCL issue, causing its share price to plunge to a second- day close of £2.75 and a worse third-day close of £2.12.With the stock exchange closed now for four weeks, and a fifth week looking likely, it is anyone's guess what a share of LCL stock is worth today in the market. What is certain, however, is that a very few people made a huge profit when LCL went public.Meanwhile, Afxentiou last week sent a circular around the Central Bank cautioning employees there not to buy shares. The circular said he too would refrain from buying stock. It did not mention his LCL private-placement purchase.Politisnewspaper reported on Friday that Central Bank board members already have thousands of shares worth millions of pounds in commercial banks in Cyprus, in violation of Public Law 48 of 1963, which was promulgated when the Central Bank was founded.That law says Central Bank Board members "cannot be advisers, officers or employees of another bank, or have shares which have control of any other bank or financial operation in Cyprus," Politissaid, quoting from the law's text.It said Afxentiou's circular made clear that Central Bank employees violating the law by buying shares would suffer the consequences. The circular was not any more specific.Central Bank Board member Constantinos Damtsas, who Politissaid has extensive Bank of Cyprus share holdings, was quoted by the paper as declaring: "This also happens overseas. There is no conflict of interest."

    A:hover {color: #FF0000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    October 3 1999

    [02] Stock Exchange to reopen tomorrowBy Athena KarseraTHE CYPRUS Stock Exchange will reopen tomorrow, its board of directors announced last night, but brokers with unfinished paperwork will not be allowed on the trading floor.The board apologised to investors for the closure, the third since July, which has tied up billions of pounds in investment capital because of the thousands of transactions that have not been formally cleared by the exchange.Between tomorrow and October 11, transactions will take place for only one hour a day, from 10.30 to 11.30am, the board said. This will leave the rest of the day for brokers to try to clear up their backlogs of unfinished orders.From tomorrow, brokers’ offices will also demand either stock titles or cash, depending on the case, before each transaction is carried out, the board said.In addition, all transactions conducted by telephone will be tape-recorded, and all those made in person will be done in writing, the board said.The Stock Exchange’s doors have been shut since September 3, when an avalanche of paperwork caught up with brokers, causing gridlock on the trading floor and precluding taking on any new business.The current closure is the third since July, when it shut for two days for brokers to catch up on unfinished paperwork. It then closed again for a full week in August for the same reason. On neither occasion did brokers clear their paperwork.Finance Minister Takis Klerides said yesterday that at the last count, there were 13 brokers who would not be allowed on the trading floor when it reopens because of unfinished paperwork.The bourse's three closures may mean it is already too late to prevent an exodus of foreign investors or regain the confidence of domestic punters, Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis has conceded."A lot of damage has been caused. I have been told that foreign investors have already started preparing to sell up and leave. I believe we have already lost them," Rolandis said this week, adding that most domestic investors were also worried.The latest closure has tied up billions of pounds in investments whose paperwork did not clear over the summer. Before the latest closure, the benchmark index had surged over 360 per cent.

    A:hover {color: #FF0000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    October 3 1999

    [03] Suspected jewel thieves arrested at airport

    THREE Hungarians were remanded for eight days yesterday on suspicion of using fake credit cards to purchase £15,000 worth of luxury items.

    The three were arrested yesterday morning after police and two Ayia Napa jewellers staked out Larnaca airport in anticipation of their departure when credit cards used by the trio turned out to be false.

    Requesting that the three be remanded yesterday, the investigating officer told Larnaca district court that Ferenc Horvath, 53, Jozsef Szmodics, 48, and Edina Szabo, 27, had purchased thousands of pounds worth of jewellery and other expensive goods with counterfeit cards.

    The officer said that Horvath had visited two Ayia Napa jewellery shops on September 23 and bought an 18 carat gold chain worth £2,900 from one and a gold chain and bracelet worth £1,000 and £800 respectively from the second.

    In both instances, the court heard, Horvath paid with counterfeit Visa and Master cards.

    The investigating officer said that one of the store owners had become suspicious of Horvath's behaviour and made bank queries about the cards' authenticity.

    The man also notified his wife, who operates another Ayia Napa jewellery store, to be especially careful with customers wanting to pay by credit card.

    Two days later, on September 25, Horvath went into the wife's shop and asked to pay for jewels with a credit card, the investigating officer said. The woman asked for his passport and when Horvath went to his rented car saying he would fetch it, she followed him outside.

    When Horvath, along with Szmodics and Szabo, who were waiting in the vehicle, saw her, they drove off.

    Further police enquiries on the vehicle revealed that Szabo had rented it from Larnaca airport and that the three were due to go back to their native Budapest yesterday morning.

    When they arrived at the airport, the trio were identified by the two jewellers and police searched their baggage.

    The investigating officer told Larnaca court that the search revealed a treasure trove of assorted jewellery, expensive watches and mobile phones.

    The three told police that they had brought the £15,000 worth of goods with them from Hungary.

    The officer also noted that the jewellery had been well hidden in the luggage and that searches had turned up credit card receipts indicating they had also paid visits to several other shops in Ayia Napa and Protaras.

    The investigating officer said police would be making enquiries with the other stores and compare Horvath's signature to the one on the jewellers' receipts.

    The three argued in vain against their remand, with Horvath saying: "Why do you want to keep me for eight days if you have no proof?" Szmodics asked the court: "Is it an offence to carry jewellery you do not know the origin of?"

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    October 3 1999

    [04] Nikiforos 99 gets under way

    By Athena Karsera

    THE NIKIFOROS military exercise began yesterday morning with reserves reporting for service and the Greek Defence Minister inspecting troops at National Guard Headquarters in Nicosia.

    Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos will also observe parts of the exercise during his visit to island.

    The main stages of the Nikiforos 99 manoeuvres will be on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the participation of Greek parachutists, aircraft and warships.

    The five-day exercise aims to test the Cypriot military's preparedness and to train soldiers under realistic conditions.

    All branches of the armed forces, both active and reserve, are involved in the day and night-time manoeuvres.

    The operation ends on Thursday with parades in Larnaca and Paphos.

    The date of the exercise was brought forward this year in order for Nikiforos not to interfere with talks on the Cyprus problem which had been anticipated before the end of the year.

    The manoeuvres are usually carried out in late October or early November, and tourism industry employers have expressed annoyance at the exercises taking away staff members during the tourist season.

    The Defence Ministry said the decision to bring the exercise forward had been taken "at the highest level" during a September meeting between President Glafcos Clerides and Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis in Athens.

    A:hover {color: #FF0000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    October 3 1999

    [05] Police probe threat against president’s daughterPOLICE said yesterday they are investigating an alleged threat against the life of the President's daughter Katy, who is also a deputy in the House of Representatives."Whenever a threat against someone's life is reported we investigate it," a police source told The Sunday Mail, adding that no arrest had been made in connection to the incident.Police said that the issue seemed to be a mixture of drunken bravado and misunderstanding and that the suspect would probably not face charges.Concerned Limassol pub patrons had called the police on Friday night when one of their drinking buddies said he would kill Disy's Katy Clerides after she had failed to act on a complaint he had made several months before.The unnamed 33-year-old army reservist had been carrying a National Guard issue G3 rifle, as he was due to take part in the Nikiforos military exercise which began yesterday.Police said Clerides is currently overseas and so was not in any danger, but they still dispatched officers to her Nicosia home as a precaution.

    A:hover {color: #FF0000; font-family: Arial; font-weight: bold}

    October 3 1999

    [06] US puts positive spin on Ecevit Cyprus talks

    DESPITE Turkey's rigid hard line on Cyprus, the United States still believes President Bill Clinton and Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit made advances towards a Cyprus settlement in their talks in Washington last week, the State Department said yesterday.

    "We believe that concrete progress was made in the meeting, and (that) we have a real chance to move and exploit the window of opportunity that exists this fall," State Department Spokesman James Rubin said.

    The buzz in diplomatic circles is that UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan will invite Cyprus, Turkey and its occupation regime in northern Cyprus to settlement talks this Autumn.

    Rubin said Washington welcomed Ecevit's support for the visit that Clinton suggested US Special Emissary Alfred Moses and State Department Co- ordinator Thomas Weston make to the region. The two envoys will soon visit Athens, Nicosia and Ankara.

    Rubin's up-beat assessment of the Clinton-Ecevit talks followed a less than encouraging outcome, as Ankara insisted that the self-declared ‘TRNC’ in the north of the island get state status as an equal with the Republic before any Cyprus settlement talks resume. This is the stance Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash has held firmly to since early 1998.

    "It is an undeniable fact," Ecevit said, "that there are two separate and independent states in Cyprus." This must be "admitted publicly", and both sides must "participate in the dialogue with completely equal status" for there even to be "direct negotiations... on the island", he said.

    Rubin dealt with this notion by reiterating the US position favouring "comprehensive negotiations without preconditions under UN auspices".

    Ecevit tossed another spanner in the works in his talks with Clinton by suggesting Ankara's own quid pro quo for achieving progress in any Cyprus talks: Turkey must get official EU candidate consideration at the EU summit in December in Helsinki.

    This would seem to preclude progress on Cyprus in any Autumn talks. It further holds progress on Cyprus hostage to decisions by EU commissioners, over which neither the US nor the United Nations has any control.

    Ecevit's own condition would seem to redress an EU snub to Turkey, stemming from its December 1997 summit. Then, the commissioners not only did not include Turkey on either the EU fast-track or the secondary track of EU candidate countries, but it also specifically included Cyprus on the fast- track list.

    At the time, it cited Turkey's poor human rights record, its bloody repression of its Kurdish minority, and its continued occupation of Cyprus as three of many reasons for the rejection.

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    October 3 1999

    [07] Work on power lines to affect traffic

    TRAFFIC on the Nicosia-Limassol highway will be halted for short intervals between 7am and 1pm today because of urgent work by the Electricity Authority (EAC).

    The authority said yesterday that traffic will be interrupted for a few minutes at a time at four points.

    The first point is north of the Moni power station, the second at the exit for Moni village, the third at the highway's exit to Pentakomo village, and the fourth just before the turn-off to Governor's Beach.

    The EAC said it was sorry if motorists suffered any inconvenience caused by the work to high voltage lines above the highway.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999

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