|Monday, 26 February 2024
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 99-11-25
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
 Cabinet backs one per cent levy on share salesBy Jean Christou
The Cabinet yesterday approved a bill for a one per cent levy on the sale of shares, Finance Minister Takis Klerides said.
The draft law will be put before the House Plenum today, but there are some disagreements among the political parties, while brokerages were still asking the government to reconsider yesterday.
Klerides said that if the bill were passed and implemented today, the levy would bring the government an extra £50-55 million in revenue every year based on £20 million worth of trading daily.
This is a conservative estimate as the market often trades on volumes of between £30 and 40 million.
"This levy will be paid by the seller and only by the seller," Klerides told reporters after the Cabinet meeting. It would not be retroactive, he added.
The levy will be charged by brokers. First the broker's commission on the sale will be charged to the seller, followed by the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) fees, and then the government's one per cent, the Minister said.
Brokers' representative Louis Klappas warned yesterday that the levy would signal the end of the stock market.
"The market will be damaged and investors interests will be reduced or dissipate," he said.
Klerides said the possibility of taxing profits made on the market was also being considered.
He said he planned to exchange views with the political parties on the possibility.
Some parties have already expressed their views. Disy said at the House Finance Committee on Monday that it was not in favour of a tax on market profits, while opposition Akel and Edek said a tax should be imposed.
Meanwhile, the already troubled market closed on a downward note yesterday for the second day running. The all-share index closed at 796.3, down 0.28 per cent on Tuesday with a trading volume of £21.5 million compared to Tuesday's £21.7 million.
Trading was again down in all sub-sectors, most noticeably manufacturing, which dropped 2.56 per cent, and investment companies, which fell 1.34 per cent.
Fourteen listed companies, including the three main banks, were still not trading yesterday as a result of suspensions and voluntary withdrawals in order for the firms to settle their issue of share deeds by November 29.
However, reports yesterday suggested the banks would be back on the floor by Monday.
 Victims of shooting arrested after ammunition findBy George Psyllides
THREE Limassol men wounded in a suspected gangland hit on Tuesday were yesterday arrested by police on suspicion of illegal possession of ammunition.
All three men were brought up before Limassol District Court yesterday morning. Police said they found two pistol bullets in the car the three were in when they were ambushed outside Kivides village, in the Limassol area, on Tuesday evening.
Unconfirmed reports suggested the three might have been involved in an exchange of fire with their unknown assailants on Tuesday. Makis Ioannou, and brother Stelios and Christos Christou, alias Ninjakia (the Ninja brothers) told police they had been out training their dogs when their car came under fire.
Ioannou was shot in the shoulder, while the Christou brothers escaped with minor injuries.
Court proceedings were adjourned yesterday to allow the suspects time to find lawyers to represent them. They are expected to reappear before the same court today.
No one was arrested yesterday in connection with the ambush, which police are treating as an attempted murder. But reports suggested police had interrogated various suspects named as likely culprits by the three victims.
Police are not sure who the intended target for Tuesday's attack was. They are treating the shooting incident as part of an ongoing bloody feud between underworld gangs vying for control of the lucrative cabaret circuit, seen as a front for prostitution and gambling rings.
Makis Ioannou is the brother of George Ioannou, alias Kotsiouthkias, who was murdered in January last year outside the Handres nightclub in Limassol.
There is another illegal explosives possession case pending against the Christou brothers.
 Papandreou says Greece and Cyprus in harmonyGREEK Foreign Minister George Papandreou, who arrives on the island today, said yesterday that Athens and Nicosia had identical views on national issues.
Speaking after a meeting in Athens with Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades, Papandreou said the two men had had a useful discussion and had confirmed an "identity of views" on national issues.
Papandreou's two-day visit to Cyprus is taking place to prepare the ground for Greece's handling of Turkey's application for EU candidacy, which will be a major issue at the Helsinki summit on December 10-11.
Papandreou said the issue of Turkey's candidacy and the stance Greece would take would be discussed with the Cyprus government.
European countries are expected to consider next week's UN-sponsored proximity talks when looking at Turkey's case.
The government hopes Turkey's European aspirations will push the Turkish side towards concessions in Cyprus talks.
But political parties are sceptical. Akel said yesterday that Papandreou had to be told that Greece should insist on progress first, before Turkey was given candidacy.
"Otherwise promises by Turkey will not fulfilled," a party statement said.
Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said Papandreou's visit would focus on an exchange of views. He said it was likely that, whatever happened in Helsinki would probably be a last minute decision by Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, depending on the amount of bargaining that would take place.
Papandreou arrives this afternoon and will hold talks immediately with Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides, followed by a joint press conference. On Friday morning, he will meet President Clerides.
 Pontian returns to Cyprus threatening to sue for damagesBy Martin Hellicar
THE STATE may have paid for his return to Cyprus, but a Pontian deported on suspicion of petty theft is now threatening to sue the government for damages.
Georgios Politides' case grabbed the headlines earlier this month, highlighting the police policy of deporting foreigners suspected of criminal activities, even in the absence of convicting evidence.
The Ombudswoman, Eleana Nicolaou, condemned Politides' September 4 deportation as blatantly racist and the government was eventually forced to foot the bill for the Pontian to be reunited with his family in Paphos.
He returned to the island on Tuesday evening, and was yesterday back in his Paphos flat with his wife, Irini, and two children -- three-and-a-half-year-old Christiana and five-year-old Yianna.
Politides spoke of his "bitterness" at being deported. His lawyer, Alexandros Alexandrou, said his client might well now seek compensation for the treatment he received.
Politides insisted he had nothing to do with the theft of a bottle of wine and two small bottles of coke that he was arrested for a few months back, and which led to his deportation.
Police never found enough evidence to take Politides to court for the petty theft. He was released without charge but re-arrested on August 12 and kept in Paphos police station holding cells until September 4, when he was deported.
The Pontian community in Paphos has been branded by some as a den of thieves and troublemakers, and Paphos Police chief Kyriacos Koniotis justified Politides' deportation as a measure to deal with what he termed "the Pontian problem."
The Ombudswoman noted that the Pontian was deported six days before his appeal against the deportation order was due to be heard by the Supreme Court.
Following the Ombudswoman's damning report, the Interior Ministry reversed the deportation order and House president Spyros Kyprianou recommended that the state pay for Politides to return.
While condemning the Pontian's deportation, Attorney-general Alecos Markides has said the authorities do not need a conviction to expel someone. "Presumption of innocence has nothing to do with the right of somebody to be in Cyprus or not," the Attorney-general said.
"We are talking about people who are not citizens of the Republic, and the Republic is not bound to allow anybody to stay in its territory," Markides said.
Police confirmed that foreigners implicated in a crime faced deportation even if there was insufficient evidence against them to press charges.
But police spokesman Glafcos Xenos insisted such expulsions were only carried out for reasons of "public interest" and with the approval of the Attorney-general.
"These reasons (of public interest) are not necessarily based on court decisions, but can be other evidence or information," Xenos said.
Xenos indicated deportations in the absence of convictions were only carried out when police were sure that the foreigners concerned were up to no good.
 Criminal charges pending against second foundryBy Anthony O. Miller
WHILE the Limassol bomb squad searched the Nemitsas foundry for explosives yesterday, the Labour Department was preparing to ask the Attorney-general to file criminal charges against the foundry, and to ask the court to halt its smoke emissions.
"We are taking the same action" against Nemitsas as Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas asked Attorney-general Alecos Markides to take against the Marios & Eleni foundry in Ergates, Labour Department Director Sotiris Sotiriou said yesterday.
Markides told the Cyprus Mail that yesterday he filed criminal charges against the Ergates foundry for breaching its permit's terms by producing smoke that contains more particulate matter than allowed by law.
Markides said he would ask the court today to ask the foundry to cease those operations that produce that smoke pending the outcome of the criminal case.
"We are preparing the relevant documents (on Nemitsas) to send to Markides," Sotiriou said. Labour Ministry tests at the foundry, begun last week, showed "the emission concentration is higher than we specified in the permit -- 300 milligrams of dust emission per cubic metre of air coming out of the stacks."
The tests showed Nemitsas smoke contained "384 milligrams" of particulate per cubic metre of air, "25 per cent higher" than allowed, Sotiriou said, adding the documents would be completed and handed to Markides "as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, the Limassol bomb squad did not find any explosives at the Nemitsas foundry yesterday, police and Nemitsas Managing Director Kikis Petevis confirmed late yesterday.
Petevis declined to offer an opinion as to who might have phoned in the bomb threat to Limassol police, but specifically steered away from suggesting it might have been any members of two local groups of citizens opposed to the foundry's operation.
"I don't know who did it," Petevis said. "Somebody irresponsible... I would like to think they (the opposition groups) are serious people and wouldn't do it. ... But it would be irresponsible on my behalf to say it was him, or that person."
The bomb threat "didn't come to us. It was a phone call" to Limassol police that (Inspector) Mr. Lazarus Georgiou, the police officer in charge of Limassol today, received," Petevis said. "They said that two bombs would explode at 4pm in our plant."
Georgiou confirmed the bomb threat's authenticity, noting it came in around 3pm on the 199 emergency phone number, and was made by a male of unknown identity.
"I believe that it is false," Georgiou said, "because some people around the factory want them to close." Georgiou said no bomb or other explosive device was found in the foundry.
As the police searched the foundry, Petevis said none of the employees or managers was evacuating the site. "The board of directors of the company has just had a meeting, and we've decided we are staying in. No employee wants to leave," he said.
"We're taking it seriously. But on the other hand, we are not going to allow them to achieve what they want in an indirect manner -- whoever that may be. The factory remains open, irrespective of what happens." If the bomb threat is the real thing, "then we will die here," Petevis said, "and maybe the pollution will cease to exist."
Bernadette Charalambous, who is involved with the two residents groups opposed to the foundry's smoke pollution, said the bomb threat did "absolutely not" come from any of the members of the local residents groups opposed to Nemitsas' smoke pollution.
"We are parents and residents. Our concern is for the health and safety of the people. It's ludicrous to imply that we would go to such measures. It has absolutely nothing to do with any of us," she said.
Despite the imminent court filing against Nemitsas, Charalambous said: "Personally, I'm very angry that it was not done a long time ago. I'm still concerned" for the health of the children, and all the residents, she said.
"I believe my baby's health has suffered because of this. We can't prove anything. My paediatrician says it certainly contributed towards" her son's chronic breathing problems, she said.
Court action or not, "we will be taking action" in the future against the foundry, she said. "We're very angry that the government has let this drag on for so long."
 Academics plead for preservation of Nicosia siteTHE CYPRUS University yesterday called for the protection of the Pasidy hill archaeological site.
The hill, in central Nicosia, has been earmarked for the new House of Representatives building, but the discovery of antiquities has put construction work on hold.
In an announcement yesterday, the University's Faculty of Letters stressed the importance of the site.
"The archaeological strata that have been uncovered on the hill provide a continuous picture of the city's development from the Chalcolithic period, about 3500 years BC, to the present day," a statement read.
"Neither the new House of parliament nor any other construction should be allowed to destroy or even conceal this unique stratigraphical sequence," the Faculty stated.
"If the archaeological investigation of the hill is allowed to proceed with care, this may be our last chance to identify Ledra, the elusive and to this date archaeologically invisible ancient predecessor of Nicosia," the academics add.
Meanwhile, the Leventis Foundation and the Antiquities department yesterday announced the organisation of a symposium to discuss the economic, administrative and psychological problems associated with the late publication of archaeological dig results.
The aim of the Mediterranean symposium, taking place in Nicosia today and tomorrow, will be to draw up a draft convention -- to be named the Nicosia Convention -- on the publication of archaeological findings.
Dr Vassos Karayiorgis of the Leventis Foundation, and Savvas Hadjisavvas of the Antiquities Department, cited lack of time and money as the main causes for publication delays.
But Karayiorgis and Hadjisavvas also spoke of the "psychological" problems faced by dig scientists fearful of releasing their findings for fear they be wrong.
 Salesman remanded as share scam suspectBy George Psyllides
A MAN was remanded in custody yesterday accused of trying to sell non-existent shares to gullible would-be investors.
Leontios Michael, a 33-year-old computer salesman from Kaimakli in Nicosia, was arrested when he allegedly tried to sell shares to an undercover police officer.
Michael, who is accused of posing as a representative of the Lefkaritis and Petrolina group of companies, accepted £25,000 from the police officer for the shares, Nicosia court was told.
Lefkaritis and Petrolina have denied any involvement, saying the suspect did not act on their behalf.
Police told the court Michael had been peddling bogus shares since August, defrauding investors of thousands of pounds.
The suspect, police said, held meetings with potential clients at a luxury hotel in Nicosia, posing as a representative of companies preparing to go public on the stock market.
He allegedly promised clients private placements in the offering of shares in new listed companies.
Prices on the stock exchange have risen by more than 700 per cent since the beginning of the year, luring almost half the population into the lucrative market.
The authorities have warned the public to be on the look-out for individuals who might seek to take advantage of the situation.
Michael was remanded in custody for eight days.
© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1999