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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-08-25

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>


Friday, August 24, 2000

CONTENTS

  • [01] Afxentiou says laundering allegations totally unfounded
  • [02] Rampant moufflon accused of ravaging crops
  • [03] IMC recommendation due by end of the month
  • [04] Bourse slips lower again
  • [05] Cigarette importers ready for new cut in tar levels
  • [06] Christodoulou calls on Kurd to stop hunger strike
  • [07] Relatives of Greek missing urged to give blood

  • [01] Afxentiou says laundering allegations totally unfounded

    By Jean Christou

    ALLEGATIONS implicating Cyprus and in particular the Laiki Bank in the laundering of Yugoslav assets are unsubstantiated and unfounded, the Central Bank said yesterday.

    Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou told the Cyprus Mail that as far are they were concerned the issue was closed. "There is no case here," he said.

    The Sunday Times this week claimed that investigators at the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control believed as much as $4 billion from former Yugoslavia could have ended up in Cyprus alone and that the money was transferred abroad by President Slobodan Milosevic’s regime.

    But Afxentiou remained unfazed by the reports. ‘These appear from time to time," he said. "They are just allegations and can’t be substantiated."

    The Sunday Times report also said that American officials were monitoring the case of one Yugoslav citizen who claimed to have had his Beogradska Banka account in Cyprus hijacked by money launderers. The Yugoslav man claims the money was moved to an account in Laiki Bank, one of the island’s largest financial institutions.

    But Afxentiou said yesterday there was no question of any underhand dealing by Laiki. ‘The reference to Laiki is out of line," he said. "This has nothing to do with Laiki and its name has been wrongly and unjustly used."

    The businessman, Predrag Djordjevic, claims his Bulgarian trade partner deposited about £180,000 in Deutschmarks into his company’s account in Belgrade as part of a cotton deal at the height of the Bosnian war in 1994 and during strict UN-imposed sanctions.

    The money was supposed to be transferred to the Beogradska bank in Cyprus, an offshore bank whose licence has since been withdrawn by the Central Bank.

    However, Djordjevic claims the transfer was mysteriously blocked and after a long legal wrangle with Beogradska, he says he found his money had been moved into a Laiki account controlled by Antexol Trade Ltd, a company he had never heard of.

    He claims that when the accounts were examined in court, he discovered that some $300,000 had been transferred to the account, which bore the same number as his account with Beogradska.

    "This is a transaction difference between Beogradska and one of its clients and can’t be substantiated," Afxentiou said.

    But Djordjevic has now initiated legal proceedings against Laiki and Antexol, and released copies of the court papers. He is demanding compensation for alleged embezzlement and the withholding of money sent from abroad in April 1994.

    Laiki said yesterday it had not received any legal papers from the Yugoslav businessman’s lawyers.

    The bank’s lawyer Kikis Talarides told the Cyprus Mail that until legal papers were received, there was no case as far as they were concerned. "So we are not aware of any lawsuit filed or not," he said. He suggested the papers may have become caught up in the system and not delivered by process servers, or that they may not yet have been handed over to the process servers. Djordjevic’s lawyers were unavailable for comment yesterday.

    In an official statement on Wednesday, Laiki categorically denied any involvement in money laundering and said that implicating Cyprus was a favourite occupation of foreign newspapers. Laiki said the only connection it had with Beogradska was that the Yugoslav bank was one of its clients.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Friday, August 24, 2000

    [02] Rampant moufflon accused of ravaging crops

    By Athena Karsera

    ONE OF Cyprus’ national symbols is wreaking havoc on the crops of fruit farmers, with entire communities demanding that the government either take measures to prevent further destruction or compensate them accordingly.

    The moufflon, a pale brown member of the sheep family, was on the brink of extinction following the 1974 Turkish invasion and has been a protected species ever since. The Paphos area forest they normally reside in was declared a game reserve area in 1939.

    Farmers in Kambos, Tsakistra, Milikouri and Panayia, however, complain that the moufflon, now thought to number 3,072 compared to 800 in 1988, raid their farms due to lack of food in their natural habitat.

    Kambos mukhtar Theocharis Kerveris said the animals wondered into the fields, "and destroy everything," in their quest for food.

    He said the moufflon ate whatever they found in front of them, "Apples, cherries, grapes," causing mass destruction to crops, and he accused the government of doing very little to compensate the farmers for their losses, "The Council of Vine Products gives us next to nothing for compensation," he said

    Milikouri mukhtar Petros Georgiou put the blame on the creatures not being properly provided for, "The give birth, they multiply and the forest doesn’t give them food or water so they seek food in our vineyards and our orchards."

    He said the government should clean up the small streams and springs in the forest so the moufflon would have a source of water. "The government has been making a plan for five years now…with what they have been paying their experts, they could have fenced in the area by now."

    A representative from the Game Department yesterday confirmed that residents in the area had made complaints. He added that a study being carried out to document the lifestyle of the moufflon had now been completed.

    Reports yesterday said the study had shown moufflon on the outskirts of the forest multiplied faster than those in the centre of the forest, causing damage to the farmers’ land. It also pointed out that food and water had been provided for the animals since 1996 and that the number of rangers on the lookout for moufflon poachers had also been increased.

    The Game Department has suggested the hunting of older male moufflon, which it said would improve the animals’ bloodline and raise money to improve their natural habitat. The House of Representatives, however, has rejected the proposal.

    The moufflon is unique to Cyprus and has been recorded on the island since Neolithic times.

    The animals live 15-20 years and males have horns like those of a ram.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, August 24, 2000

    [03] IMC recommendation due by end of the month

    By Jean Christou

    A DECISION on whether the Cyprus Stock Exchange (CSE) will be allowed to move to the IMC building is expected by the end of this month, Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said yesterday.

    Responding to journalists’ questions on the controversial move, Christodoulou said the Ministry’s committee for studying building relaxations would make a recommendation to the Cabinet by the end of the month.

    The CSE says its current headquarters on Grivas Dighenis Avenue -- its home for more than five years -- are too small since the recent huge growth in the bourse. Fears have also been expressed that the building is a fire hazard and employees have staged several work stoppages to push for the move to the IMC.

    The move is opposed by Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades, who argues the CSE should not be located outside the city centre. The gigantic IMC building is situated outside the city centre and is under the jurisdiction of Strovolos municipality. It is also in an industrial area, and the government would have to relax zoning regulations to enable the CSE to operate there legally.

    "The Cabinet will decide after the recommendations are made by the committee," Christodoulou said.

    The Minister said the issue of housing the CSE should be a matter for the stock market board, but added pressure was coming from all directions.

    "There is a claim, and it might be true, that the CSE might not be able to continue at its current site and that the only building which can satisfy its needs is the IMC building," he said.

    Demetriades yesterday reiterated his stance that the CSE should remain in central Nicosia and again threatened that if he was not happy with the cabinet decision he would seek recourse at the Supreme Court.

    "The committee will make suggestions to the cabinet and they will decide," he told the CyBC. "If the decision is not within the law there could be recourse to the Supreme Court by an interested party and one of these parties is Nicosia municipality."

    Demetriades denied his interest had anything to do with "Lellos wanting everything in Nicosia".

    "Greater Nicosia has a building plan and this is the law of the state which has to be enforced, and it says that structures like the House of Representatives and the stock exchange should be in the centre and not outside and this is supported by all technical experts," he said.

    "I say it would be catastrophic for the capital of a state to move such a vital service outside municipal boundaries, because it would automatically be moving the centre of town itself."

    The CSE board had hoped to be operating from the IMC building months ago, but ran into the legal battle with Demetriades and other detractors of the move. The Board had hoped to move before a visit at the end of this month by officials from the European Stock Exchange.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, August 24, 2000

    [04] Bourse slips lower again

    By Jean Christou

    THE ALL-SHARE index continued its slow downward spiral yesterday, slipping another 0.7 per cent to close at 376.39 points in a month-long slide which has seen little or no gains.

    Volume dropped back slightly to £20.17 million and all but one sector ended in the red in another day of lacklustre trading.

    Trading opened in the red and had rapidly dropped to a low of 1.07 per cent until the last 15 minutes when it gained slightly returning to pre mid- session levels.

    The biggest losses were recorded in the trading sector, down 2.09 per cent, followed by manufacturing with a drop of 1.92 per cent. Only the tourism sector showed minor gains of 0.27 per cent despite a significant loss of 13 cents per share by Libra, which closed at £3.22.

    GlobalSoft resumed its winning streak after a slight hiccup during Wednesday’s session which saw its share price drop six cents. The company was back on track yesterday, adding nine cents to close at £4.83 amid heavy trading. Over 1.7 million GlobalSoft shares changed hands and for the third day running trading in the company’s stocks accounted for over 40 per cent of total volume.

    Heavy trading was also evident in stocks of the distribution agency Kronos which made an impressive debut on the floor on Tuesday. However yesterday’s profit-taking which saw 1.24 million Kronos shares change hands, took its toll on the price yesterday shaving off seven cents to end at £1.70 after hitting an impressive intraday high of £1.87.

    The banking sector lost 0.59 per cent yesterday with Bank of Cyprus (BoC) and Laiki losing another six cents each to end at £6.49 and £9.47 respectively, while Hellenic again showed a slight gain of two cents to close at £2.25 ahead of its expected results on Monday.

    Yesterday’s biggest gainer was Logicom which rose 25 cents to close at £5.25.

    Both investors and brokers were scarce on the floor yesterday as the holiday period continued to take its toll. Market players hope business will pick up next week

    "There is nothing much happening these days," said one broker.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, August 24, 2000

    [05] Cigarette importers ready for new cut in tar levels

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE MAXIMUM amount of tar allowed in cigarettes is to be cut by January 1, 2001, as Cyprus heads closer to European Union accession and the government steps up its crackdown on smokers.

    The Brussels directive was drawn up several years ago, and imposes a maximum 12 mg of tar per cigarette. Tar content in excess of 15 mg per cigarette was outlawed from January 1, 1998.

    The government has committed Cyprus to full compliance by January 1, 2001 and importers are gearing up to meet the target date.

    Argosy CTC, who import Marlboros, claim they have already axed the tar content from 15 to 12 mg. But packets of Marlboro reds advertising 13 mg of tar remain on the market.

    Britain’s Sun newspaper, well known for its anti-European stance, has claimed the directive will cost 10,000 British jobs, ban favourite brands of cigarettes and force an underground black market in tobacco once Britain pulls the plug on offending cigarettes in 2003.

    But the CTC spokesman yesterday denied this was in danger of happening in Cyprus.

    "It’s very simple. We import our cigarettes from the United States. Each importer asks for their batch to match the requirements of their country. It’s no problem, I expect we can just change the order," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    British American Tobacco, BAT, the island’s principal tobacco distributors, are also fully briefed with the legislation drawn up by the government, in accordance with the EU directive.

    All cigarettes have met the 1998 deadline restricting the level of tar to 15 mg. Apart from Marlboro reds, BF Full Flavour will also have to slash their tar content – which currently stands at 14 mg.

    A spokesman for BF importers, Litsa Argyrou, said she "didn’t know" how it would be done, saying it was not for her to decide.

    She maintained, however, that the brand was 80 per cent safer than rival products, due to a special biological filter, which contains haemoglobin. The company cites independent research to support its claim that the filter retains more nitric oxide and carbon monoxide than conventional ones.

    Other heavies, Camel, Craven, Rothmans and Royals contain 12 mg of tar, while Benson & Hedges Special Filters have just 9 mg.

    Although the majority of smokers prefer lighter brands of cigarette with much lower tar contents, lovers of heavy-duty cigarettes only have four months left to enjoy the taste, as they know it.

    The Health Ministry estimates that 23 per cent of the adult population smokes in Cyprus. Health Minister Frixos Savvides has pursued a rigorous anti-smoking policy in recent months to bring Cypriot laws in line with EU norms and help smokers to kick the habit.

    Tobacco advertising and sponsorship of tobacco product producers will become illegal from August 1, 2001. The Ministry has said it is prepared to foot bills of up to £120 a head for smokers wanting to quit.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, August 24, 2000

    [06] Christodoulou calls on Kurd to stop hunger strike

    By Jean Christou

    INTERIOR Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou yesterday called on a hunger- striking Kurd to stop making a fuss over his refugee status.

    Responding to questions on the case, the Minister said he had given promises to man three weeks ago, "and these promises stand".

    He also referred to the case of another Kurd, but no details were given.

    "What both must realise is the more fuss they cause the more difficult it makes my efforts in the delicate actions we are undertaking to help them," he said.

    Mehmet Dhogan, a 33-year-old Turkish national, began his hunger strike on Eleftheria Square on Tuesday and said he was going to remain there until he died unless the government allowed him to seek asylum in another country.

    So far, he has been stopped from leaving the country twice in the two years that he has lived in the Republic. Prior to that he lived in the occupied areas for three years after fleeing Turkey, leaving his pregnant wife and an 18-month-old son behind.

    Dhogan also made an application to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to be officially classed as an asylum seeker, but said he had received no reply from the organisation.

    Frustrated by the lack of response, Dhogan last month demanded to see Christodoulou at his offices, threatening to set himself alight unless he was allowed to leave for another country where he family could join him.

    But Christodoulou said yesterday the applications to the UNHCR for both men had been rejected.

    "For both these persons, there were applications to the UNHCR for them to be considered as political refugees," he confirmed. "The High Commission has already decided that they are not political refugees and therefore normally should have been sent back to their country of origin."

    Christodoulou said both claimed that if they were sent back to Turkey their safety could not be guaranteed. But the minister said the responsibility did not lie with Cyprus, but with the UNHCR.

    "We are aware of the impasse, which is something the Kurds themselves should also be aware of and the least they should do is not cause a public nuisance," he said. " I will help them, but they are not helping themselves or me or the government in our efforts to help them with this delicate and sensitive issue."

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Friday, August 24, 2000

    [07] Relatives of Greek missing urged to give blood

    FOREIGN Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides will use an upcoming trip to Athens to call on the Greek government to encourage relatives of Greek nationals missing since 1974 to help identify recently excavated remains.

    A number of Greek nationals have been listed as missing since the Turkish invasion, and have been included in the list of 1,619 missing persons, which has recently been revised down to 1,490 with the identification of the remains through DNA testing and the processing of eyewitness evidence.

    But the relatives of the Greek missing have been slow to come forward for blood tests that could prove the vital link in establishing the fate of their loved ones.

    Speaking during his daily briefing yesterday, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said: "The Foreign Minister will meet next week in Athens with Greek Defence Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos exclusively to discuss this issue, taking into account that a substantial number of relatives has not given blood to the blood bank."

    Papapetrou said the Greek army should contribute to the effort to track down relatives of the missing: "They live all over Greece and perhaps it has not been made abundantly clear to them how important it is to engage in this process of giving blood to help establish the fate of their loved ones."

    He said only a small number of relatives from Greece had responded to previous requests to give blood.

    Last year, the government began a process of exhumation and identification of remains from two local cemeteries. So far the identity of one Greek soldier has been established through DNA identification.

    Most relatives of missing Greek Cypriots have given blood and information to the authorities for this process.

    Cassoulides leaves for Athens early next week and is also set to meet his Greek counterpart George

    Papandreou before returning to Cyprus to fly to London and New York, accompanying President Glafcos Clerides to the UN Millennium summit and later Cyprus problem talks.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail


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