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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-03-10

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

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


Friday, March 10, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Shares plunge again as Lazarides warns of dirty tricks
  • [02] Government denies stalling stock market bill
  • [03] Bank robber floors prosecutor in courtroom brawl
  • [04] Suspected bank robber seized after police shoot getaway car
  • [05] Another 10 Turks cross the line
  • [06] Children sent home from school because of foundry smoke
  • [07] Bases round up illegal farmhands
  • [08] International envoys meet Denktash

  • [01] Shares plunge again as Lazarides warns of dirty tricks

    By Jean Christou

    THE STOCK market hit a new year low yesterday with the all-share index dropping 21 points, or 3.8 per cent, to 542.

    Trading volume also fell by £6 million to £21 million as investors, fearing further losses, dumped more shares.

    All sectors of the market plunged with the biggest losses in tourism and investment companies, both down by 7.8 per cent, while manufacturing companies were down by 5.6 per cent and banks by 2.8 per cent.

    Euroinvestment and Finance was the biggest loser of the day plunging £1.44 to close at £10.25.

    The sustained losses over the past week yesterday prompted a leading banker to make charges of "dirty dealings", while the Investors’ Association called on the public not to panic.

    Popular Bank Chairman Kikis Lazarides, who on Tuesday announced an unprecedented 230 per cent increase in his Group's pre-tax profits for 1999, expressed his surprise at the developments.

    Popular Bank shares rose only 20 cents on Tuesday, despite the group’s "phenomenal" results. Yesterday the bank's shares nose-dived 36 cents to close at £13.28.

    "What we are seeing is not what was expected in the light of the results we announced on Tuesday," Lazarides said.

    "When a big and important bank announces such results on foreign stock markets it would be a positive influence on the market. What have we seen today and yesterday, is exactly the opposite."

    Lazarides told CyBC radio that "games were being played" but he declined to elaborate, saying it would be difficult to provide sufficient evidence.

    "Unfortunately some games are being played by some people," he said. "There is evidence, but no one is going to testify that he was told to do this or that but I leave this charge to the judgement of the investors and the people in general."

    He added it was the investors who were the losers and called on the government to support the bourse.

    Broker Stelios Pekris urged anyone who had evidence to supply it to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    He also blamed some deputies for the situation by talking about dangers and causing panic among investors.

    "I believe it’s because of that we are facing this situation," Pekris said. "I want to ask all those deputies, who during Christmas became experts and wrote articles about the economy, where are they now? They should come here to see what their actions over Christmas have led to."

    Pekris warned deputies should also keep in mind that 31 per cent of voters were investors.

    He agreed with Lazarides that the results announced by the bank should have given cause for optimism that the market was on the road to recovery and also called on the government to support the bourse.

    He suggested the state help to float the 80 companies waiting in line, which have already taken money from investors through private placement.

    The Investors Association yesterday called on investors not to panic and not to feel forced to sell their shares at "humiliating" prices. The Association also said the charges made by Lazarides should be investigated.

    Experts say the market's slide is not expected to stop any time soon and that that prospects for the reversal of the current trend are slim without steps from the Cyprus Stock Exchange authorities, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Central Bank.

    Friday, March 10, 2000

    [02] Government denies stalling stock market bill

    By Jean Christou

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday denied that it had blocked a bill to regulate the amount of shares that companies going public can give on private placement.

    Reports yesterday suggested that the cabinet had not discussed the bill at its Wednesday meeting following opposition from private sector interests.

    Politis newspaper said approval of the bill had been shelved at the last minute. The bill stipulated that companies floating on the market should offer 25 per cent of their shares to the public to cut down on how many were given on private placement.

    But since most companies float only 30 per cent of their total holdings, the new provisions would have left them only five per cent to offer on private placement.

    Politis quoted private sector interests as saying five per cent would not be enough for companies to offer private placement to their suppliers and staff.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said yesterday the bill had not been blocked and would be discussed at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers.

    "I wish to state categorically that this issue was not on the agenda of the Cabinet last Wednesday," Papapetrou said yesterday. "It is a fact there is a bill in the pipeline and that the Attorney-general had signed the document, and there was an attempt to have it on the agenda."

    However, Papapetrou added that the bill had only been handed to the Finance Minister at 12.20pm, which was too late.

    "The meeting started at 10am and ended at 12.25pm," he said, adding that the issue would be discussed after further study by members of the Cabinet.

    Politis claimed the postponement was the result of interventions at the Presidential Palace from business and stock market circles, who did not agree with the bill’s basic provisions.

    The newspaper quoted sources from the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Keve) as saying the bill would undermine the efforts of companies to float on the market and would infringe on investors’ rights.

    The Keve sources said that if the bill is approved it would be the final nail in the coffin of the Stock Market as no company would want to float if such restrictions were imposed.

    Friday, March 10, 2000

    [03] Bank robber floors prosecutor in courtroom brawl

    A PAPHOS man was yesterday jailed for 10 years, but not before sending the state prosecutor to hospital.

    The Paphos Assizes court convened to pass sentence on Gregoris Gregoriou, alias Glioroui, who had been found guilty of a bank robbery in Chlorakas outside Paphos on April 22 last year.

    During yesterday’s hearing, Gregoriou shouted abuse at the court, prompting the judge to call a five-minute recess.

    At that point, Gregoriou, slipping the attention of his guard, punched state prosecutor Savvas Matsas, sending him to hospital with concussion.

    Police decided the suspect was not in any mental state to follow the hearing, so he too was taken to hospital.

    The court re-convened later with a different prosecutor and Gregoriou was duly sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    Yesterday’s was the second sentencing hearing for Gregoriou.

    The first had to be adjourned last week after he took all his clothes off and hurled insults at the state prosecutor, claiming he had been framed by police.

    Friday, March 10, 2000

    [04] Suspected bank robber seized after police shoot getaway car

    By George Psyllides

    DRAMATIC SCENES unfolded in Nicosia yesterday as police opened fire on a bank robber while chasing him down the streets of Strovolos.

    The suspect was eventually arrested and the money recovered, but not before he was injured by shards of glass from his shattered car window.

    It all began at 11.40am, when the 46-year-old man walked into a branch of the Popular Bank on Strovolos Avenue and asked to open an account, showing the cashier his identity card.

    He then displayed a package he had with him, saying it was a bomb and demanding the money.

    The employee gave him £9,375 in cash and he got into his silver Mitsubishi and drove away.

    Meanwhile, police arrived on the scene and chased the car, firing shots as it sped away.

    They subsequently intercepted the suspect on Tseri Avenue.

    An eyewitness said he saw blood on the man's head as he was being hauled away, but added he was conscious and could walk on his own.

    Police said last night their investigations had revealed there was a pending warrant against the suspect for his commitment to the Athalassa psychiatric hospital.

    A duty officer said the ‘bomb’ brandished by the man had been a fake.

    Last month, two armed raiders robbed a Bank of Cyprus branch in Aglandja in Nicosia.

    Two youths are on trial for the robbery after they were arrested on the same day.

    Friday, March 10, 2000

    [05] Another 10 Turks cross the line

    By Jean Christou

    ANOTHER 10 Turkish Cypriots crossed to the south of the island late on Wednesday night, coming through the area between the British bases and the Turkish-controlled north.

    Police said that at around 10.30pm, six Turkish Cypriots – a couple and four children – crossed near Dasaki Achanas and asked a local resident to take them to the nearest police station.

    At around 01.10am, British bases police discovered four others, who were handed over to Cyprus police at Xylotymbou.

    One of the two women, a 25-year-old who was with her two brothers and one of their wives, said her husband had moved to Limassol two months ago and that they wished to join him.

    A British bases spokesman confirmed that four people had been stopped in the early hours. He said they had passed two Turkish observation posts in order to cross.

    "We don’t have a border with the north because we don't recognise it as a state," the spokesman said. "There is no border control. If they come here it's a matter for them."

    All 10 Turkish Cypriots were taken to Limassol police headquarters for questioning to establish their identities.

    Police Chief Andreas Angelides visited the new arrivals yesterday. He told reporters the influx of Turkish Cypriots should not be exaggerated and that the authorities were in control of the situation.

    According to government estimates, around 200 Turkish Cypriots have crossed to the south over the past six months, mainly for economic reasons. Only four were identified as being Turkish settlers, and they have already been deported.

    However, speculation that the influx is all a plot by the Denktash regime to destabilise the settlement talks is only adding to the problem, diplomatic sources said yesterday.

    For the past two weeks, the media have been predicting dire consequences as a result of the exodus from the north.

    "There is already a backlash in Limassol," diplomatic sources said yesterday. "I believe the actions of the press themselves will cause problems and create paranoia."

    Although the sources declined to speculate on the conspiracy angle, they said the sudden influx to the south was "an interesting development".

    A Turkish Cypriot journalist in the north told the Cyprus Mail that, contrary to the excitement over the issue in the south, there seemed to be little interest in the north.

    Some reports suggest that most of those who are crossing are Turkish Cypriot gypsies and that the authorities in the north are only glad to be rid of them.

    But Izet Iskal, the president of the Turkish Cypriot Movement for Patriotic Unity, who met yesterday with Social Democratic Movement leader Vassos Lyssarides, does not believe the crossings are part of an organised operation. He said the reasons were more likely to be economic.

    Unficyp spokesman Charles Gaulkin told the Cyprus Mail the UN has no direct involvement in the issue, apart from its weekly humanitarian visits to Turkish Cypriots living in the south.

    Unficyp used to have a special office in Limassol where Turkish Cypriots could go to discuss their problems, but it was closed down some two years ago for lack of interest.

    "It was not needed," Gaulkin said. "But if it was considered necessary it could be reopened."

    Friday, March 10, 2000

    [06] Children sent home from school because of foundry smoke

    By Athena Karsera

    AN elementary school in Zakaki had to be evacuated yesterday after smoke from the nearby Nemitsas foundry became too much for the children to bear.

    Zakaki villager and anti-foundry activist Bernadette Charalambous told the Cyprus Mail that the school's head teachers had received Education Ministry instructions to send the children home at 11.30 am, when bellowing smoke engulfed the Omonia district school.

    "I only knew about it when I left work to pick up my children at 1pm," Charalambous said. "My children went to a friend's house whose mother was at home, but what about the children that had to go back to empty houses?"

    Charalambous said the teachers had tried to ensure that the pupils got home safely and that the local radio station informed the public that the school would be closing.

    She added that while parents had taken the initiative to take their children home in the past and had organised a protest day when all the parents kept their children away, yesterday was the first time the Education Ministry had ordered the school to close.

    "It’s ridiculous, how can we organise our children's education around the foundry's schedule or the direction of the wind?"

    The Eighth Elementary School is situated just 200 metres from the foundry in a zone defined as "Residential/Lightly Industrial/Commercial."

    The Education Ministry's district office in Limassol was unavailable to comment on the issue yesterday, as were the Labour Ministry's environmental inspectors.

    Industrial pollution falls under the auspices of the Labour Ministry, which has already filed a suit against Nemitsas for exceeding the 300mg Cyprus emission standard, which is itself six times higher than the EU limit.

    The residents believe that the smoke from the foundry contains cadmium, lead and possibly dioxins, and Health Minister Frixos Savvides has pledged to carry out tests on the residents' health.

    Savvides said the tests would be carried out after ones on Ergates residents, who are suffering similar problems from the Marios and Andreas foundry in their village.

    The Minister has said that if it were proved that toxins in the smoke from either foundry damage human health, he would close them down.

    The Health Ministry, however, has yet to find "satisfactory" experts to carry out the tests and the foundries continue to operate.

    Friday, March 10, 2000

    [07] Bases round up illegal farmhands

    BRITISH bases police yesterday arrested 10 people working in the fields east of Ermogenis for failing to produce visa or work permits.

    Ten men – three Nigerians, one Libyan, three Jordanians, one Mozambican, one Indian and one Sri Lankan – were detained at Episkopi police station.

    In a follow-up operation, SBA police officers and Cyprus immigration officers searched a premise at Assomatos village and recovered seven passports and three alien cards.

    "These people are clearly being paid for their employment, which was verified when a person arrived at the police station and handed over £800 for their wages. That person claimed to have been given the money by a friend of the men's employer," said chief superintendent Kelvin Ashley, the Police Divisional Commander for the Western Sovereign Base Area.

    "We are working closely with the Cyprus Immigration Department and these people will be turned over to Cyprus police (CYPOL). We are, of course, extremely interested in tracing and interviewing the employer and will be discussing this with our counterparts in CYPOL."

    Friday, March 10, 2000

    [08] International envoys meet Denktash

    U.S. PRESIDENTIAL envoy Alfred Moses, State Department Co-ordinator Thomas Weston and US Ambassador to Cyprus Donald Bandler yesterday toured part of the occupied areas.

    They visited the Karpass peninsula yesterday just as the UN Secretary- general=s special envoy Alvaro De Soto had done last Thursday.

    The three then visited occupied Famagusta before attending a dinner in the occupied areas with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.

    Moses and Weston are on the island for a series of contacts with both sides and are today due to meet with President Glafcos Clerides for the second time since their arrival here.

    Government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou has said that Moses and Weston did not present Clerides with any new ideas on the Cyprus problem during their Wednesday meeting.

    United Democrat deputy George Christophides, meanwhile, told the CyBC yesterday that the American representatives seemed to be giving emphasis to bridging financial differences between the free and occupied areas prior to working out a final solution.

    Christophides was one of four Cypriot guests to attend a dinner in Moses and Weston's honour at the American Embassy on Wednesday.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

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