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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-09-16

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, September 16, 2000


  • [01] Drugs scam suspect resigns after returning 360,000 to neurology institute
  • [02] EU warning on money laundering enforcement
  • [03] The strong dollar: help or hindrance for the Cyprus economy
  • [04] Tender board haggling delaying foundry tests
  • [05] Market crawls up

  • [01] Drugs scam suspect resigns after returning 360,000 to neurology institute

    By Athena Karsera

    A DOCTOR at the Institute of Neurology and Genetics accused of stashing away thousands of pounds in donations from an American drugs firm has handed in his resignation and returned all the money, the institute said yesterday.

    The file has been before the Attorney-general since June, but the Institute yesterday said the case was closed as far as it was concerned.

    However, three board members are said to have disagreed with the decision, and one has submitted her resignation in protest.

    The case came to light June, when Auditor-general Chrystalla Yiorkadji began investigating the disappearance of funds from the Institute.

    The money was eventually tracked down to a London bank account in the name of a non-existent organisation and being used by Institute neurosurgeon Koullis Kyriallis.

    An in-house investigation is June showed that Kyriallis had failed to disclose that the American company Biogen, which had agreed to supply an expensive drug for 40 Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, was also funding the trials.

    The patients paid for the treatment, never realising they should have been receiving it for free.

    Institute legal advisor Polis Polyviou said yesterday the Institute' s board had on Tuesday taken a seven to three decision to make an in-hous

    Polyviou said he believed the deal reached was the best under the circumstances.

    'The first thing is that the doctor in question has never be

    'Second, the do

    'Thirdly, because of his resignation and the return of the money, the Institute has no further claims against him. And all this will already be in the Attorney-general' s hands through a letter I sent yesterday.

    'Fourthly and most importantly, the doctor had been given a deadline until Friday, today, to do all this. It was done yesterday and this morning,' Polyviou concluded

    Institute board president Michalis Zampelas said it was now up to the Attorney-general to decide what would happen next and tha

    'We got the money, we accepted his resignation and the Attorney-general will decide what to do now. We, as the Institute

    But board member Elsi Christofia, wife of the Akel general secretary, handed in her resignation over the outcome of the case. She remained unsatisfied yesterday:

    'How can this happen at a time when there is this information and he admits that this happened and is prepared to return the money. This event is a fact so I felt it necessary to submit my resignation as a member of the board.'

    The board member representing the Health Ministry was also reported to be unhappy with the decision. Health Minister Frixos Savvides said yesterday an in-house solution was only warranted if there was insufficient evidence to proceed th

    He said such a deal could only be excused if legal advisors representing all involved decided the issue could not move forward for lack of evidence.

    'Then, and only then, they could responsibly say \lquote We should not wait because the case will not get anywhere so we have to protect the name and the dignity of the Institute and the money and the continuing of the research' ,'

    Saturday, September 16, 2000

    [02] EU warning on money laundering enforcement

    By Jean Christou

    EUROPE will be closely monitoring the implementation and enforcement of Cyprus' harmonised legislation particularly with regard to money laundering, the head of the EU' s negotiating team Leopold Maurer warned yesterday.

    The EU official was speaking at a bicommunal press conference at the UN- controlled Ledra Palace hotel in Nicosia' s Green Line. However, Turkish Cypriot journalists were stopped from attending by the authorities in the north.

    Commenting on the rapid progress made by Cyprus in the harmonisaton process, Maurer said implementation was just as important as having the required legislation in place.

    'Implementation and enforcement will be monitored by us quite closely,' he said.

    'It could not be that a country could have all the legislation but on the ground nothing takes place,' he added referring to the island' s legislation on money laundering, which he said was good.

    However, he said the EU monitored reports from different institutions that screen what he termed 'so called tax havens', and that Cyprus was mentioned in several, including the task force of the OECD.

    'Therefore we have closely to monitor what' s going on in Cyprus, and of course there were some very well known cases where some banks have been closed,' he said.

    'We know the government has investigated, but we have to see if you are complying with what we want you to do.'

    Cyprus' EU chief negotiator George Vassiliou defended the government' s stance on money laundering, saying the island was one of the few countries working hard to stamp it out and which had actually taken people to court.

    Vassiliou said there was sometimes confusion abroad when Cyprus' name is tarnished with reports of rampant money laundering in the Turkish-occupied area in the north.

    Cyprus has provisionally closed 16 of the 29 required harmonisation chapters. Maurer said there were nine chapters where progress was possible, but some had political implications.

    He also said the environment was a big concern, and he singled out the issue of the Akamas peninsula, which greens have been fighting to preserve as a national park against calls for development of the area.

    Maurer will end his three-day trip with visit to the Akamas today to talk to villagers. The delegation has already discussed the issue with the government and NGOs.

    'We will have a good picture of what is going on because we will have to answer questions from European parliamentarians on this,' he said.

    Other environmental issues of concern include waste, and emissions from power plants. 'This is a huge chapter,' Maurer said.

    Discussions with Cyprus will focus on transport because of the issue of maritime security, which Maurer said was very important.

    'Member states are very keen on candidate countries coming in line, because after the accession of Malta and Cyprus, the EU will have the biggest fleet in the world,' he said.

    Saturday, September 16, 2000

    [03] The strong dollar: help or hindrance for the Cyprus economy

    By Jennie Matthew

    AS THE Cyprus pound continues to wilt against the strong US dollar, economists yesterday pointed out the benefits of the weak euro for the Cyprus economy, despite the burden on oil companies and parents paying for higher education in America.

    It' s a far cry from European Central Bank (ECB) hopes to build the euro up as a reserve currency fit to rival the US dollar, whose recent strength only makes the comparison more embarrassing.

    The currency' s weakness exacerbates the pinch on oil importers as the barrel cost of crude fixed in dollars

    The ECB yesterday insisted that their purchase of billion worth of euros on Thursday was 'to square its books' and 'definitely not [an] intervention' to rescue the currency.

    The euro immediately surged on foreign exchange markets, closing more than one cent higher at 0

    'We would like to see the euro become a real, reserve currency, and its chances are weakened by its weakness,' said chief senior manager of economic research and management service division at the Bank, Haris Achniotis.

    The Cyprus economy is growing almost on a par with the US. American GDP has increased at a rate of five

    'The weak euro does not harm this growth, there are benefits as well as some losses, which generally cancel each other out,' said Achniotis.

    The weak euro makes exports of the island' s goods and services more attractive to customers in the US and the UK (sterling has remained high, yesterday at 1.06 for CY1)

    Tourism is on for a record year of growth, thanks to the influx of Brits eager to cash in on sterling' s strength with a cheaper holiday abroad.

    The Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) is confident that this year' s number of visitors will be up 10 per cent.

    The flip side is the barrel price of crude oil - on Wednesday lunchtime. As oil companies complain of losses of up to 10 million, taxi drivers threaten to strike and pump prices continue to rise.

    Parents, desperate to give their children a foreign university education, are despondent about the weak currency, which eats into their savings once transferred abroad.

    There are some 1,200 Cypriots studying in the US, each at an annual cost of between 12,000 and 15,000 sterling. The government gives them a grant of just 1,500.

    The Parents' Association of Overseas Students are campaigning for the subsidy to meet 25 to 30 per cent of the fees, the amount given to those who stay in Cyprus or go to Greece. But the government has made no commitment so far.

    Nevertheless, some economists have criticised the government for hooking the pound to the euro on a political bent at the expense of sound economics.

    The deficit in balance of trade payments widens the EU harmonisation gap, Marios Clerides, senior research manager at the Hellenic Bank, has pointed out in the past.

    Inflation is a serious thorn in Cyprus' flesh. The ECB' s goal is a rate of two per cent. The euro-zone average currently stands at 2.4 per cent. But in Cyprus, inflation has spiralled at a rate of 4.4 per cent this year.

    The five-year drought has forced up imports of fresh agricultural products, accompanied by heavy import tariffs. Prices go up, and in the face of dollar ascendancy, inflation accelerates.

    As the dollar settles, the Central Bank predicts that inflation will drop to around three per cent next year.

    Saturday, September 16, 2000

    [04] Tender board haggling delaying foundry tests

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE TENDER Board is haggling over cost and delaying testing of Omonia residents for deadly smelter smoke poisoning, despite a discount offer on their tender bid, the co-ordinator of the seven-doctor British team said yesterday.

    'They' re arguing about the price,' said Andis Leonidou, whose London-based Leonidou Associates consultancy developed the winning bid that brought the seven British doctors to the island in the first place.

    'The Tender Board is negotiating instead of getting the study under way. It makes you wonder who is running this thing? Does the Health Minister have authority, or does the Tender Board have more authority than the minister?' he asked.

    The British team is the same one that won the bid to test Ergates residents for lead, cadmium and dioxin poisoning by smoke from the Marios & Andreas foundry near their village.

    'We' ve given them a discount on the price that won us the project for Ergates, even though it' s a much larger foundry in Limassol, and Omonia has a much larger population than Ergates.

    'But they want us to go back again on Monday to do a detailed analysis on how we' re going to spend the money, which to me is not how you manage contracts,' Leonidou said.

    He said the Tender Board, led by Rea Georgiou, grilled him for more than three hours yesterday over 'pennies' in his tender for the British medical team, which is already testing Ergates residents.

    'I don' t know why she' s doing this,' Leonidou said, especially when 'we offered them a lower price' of 140,000 for the Omonia study, versus the 142, 800 they bid successfully to do the Ergates tests.

    He said Omonia' s 5,000 residents are over three times Ergates' 1,600. It has more school children to test, and the Nemitsas foundry is 'enormous. It' s output is 10 times' that of Marios and Andreas in Ergates.

    To thwart Tender Board red-tape, Leonidou and three British doctors 'went to see the residents today in Omonia without even having a contract' to work there, because he said the situation in Omonia was even more critical than in Ergates.

    In response, Education Minister Ouranios Ioannides directed the school' s headmaster to close the school and send the pupils home when Nemitsas smoke blows too pungent through the school or over the playground.

    The school' s Parents Committee opposed this as cheating their children of education so a foundry could stay in business. They met with Ioannides and foundry owner Takis Nemitsas this week and won Nemitsas'

    While a clear concession, Committee member Bernadette Charalambous said it was not what they originally wanted \endash for the foundry to operate only on Saturday, when there is no school.

    'We want the foundry closed,' Charalambous said.

    'As a personal favour' to Ioannides, however, Nemitsas reconsidered his position and agreed to work the smelter only on Saturdays, Nemitsas Managing Director Kikis Petevis said.

    But Petevis said this would cease \lquote by the end of October,' when new filters are installed on the smelter' s smokestacks. After that, pouring of molten metal might 'resume daily if necessary', he said.

    'We have negotiated with the unions and our employees' and all agreed to 'sacrifice our Saturdays' to melt metal only then until the new filters are in place, Petevis said. '

    Saturday, September 16, 2000

    [05] Market crawls up

    By George Psyllides

    THE CYPRUS Stock Exchange (CSE) yesterday managed to remain afloat with the all-share index chalking a 0.70 per cent increase and profit taking pushing the volume to around £41.5 million compared to Thursday’s modest £25 million.

    The index opened at 383 points and continued to ascend for the first 50 minutes of trading, reaching the 387 mark.

    From then on it was downhill all the way as traders reaped Thursday’s profits, forcing the index down its closing mark at 378.96.

    The biggest losses were recorded by the insurance sector, which recorded a 2.63 per cent fall, followed by the trading sector with a loss of 1.41 per cent.

    Tourism lost 0.32 per cent, while the investments group marked the highest rise with 1.94 per cent.

    The “other sector” recorded a 0.18 per cent increase with around £32.6 million changing hands.

    Its most traded share was CLR, clocking up £8.7 million in volume. The pressure lost the share 5.96 per cent, pushing it down to 41 cents.

    According to market analyst Christos Akkelides, CLR was under pressure because of the large number of shares issued. In his opinion its shares are at a lower price than they should be.

    The plight of the CLR share may also be due to individual investors who have withdrawn their capital, which has been sitting in the company’s accounts since last November.

    The two major banks recorded increases today with Bank of Cyprus (BOC) closing at £6.64 cents compared to £6.55 on Thursday, and the Popular Bank (PBC) gained 21 cents, rising to £9.63.

    Akkelides believes the CSE is slightly influenced by the Athens Stock Market (ASE) but asserted the two markets were not yet parallel.

    BOC flotation on the ASE would inevitably bring the two markets closer, carving out more influence for the ASE on the CSE, Akkelides said.

    He said yesterday’s marginal increase could be the result of the market’s reaction to Thursday’s ASE rise, pointing out that it should have been a larger, comparative increase.

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