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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-10-27

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, October 27, 2000


  • [01] Cabinet freezes Serb accounts on tribunal request
  • [02] Louis consulting lawyers over Cabinet moves to bypass duty free ruling
  • [03] Cold drugs to stay on the shelf as officials dismiss fears
  • [04] Bourse loses footing again
  • [05] Police defend actions over illegal Pyla shopping
  • [06] Iranian jailed for drugs offences

  • [01] Cabinet freezes Serb accounts on tribunal request

    By Jean Christou

    THE CABINET yesterday ordered a freeze on a number of Serb bank accounts in Cyprus pending investigation.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou made the announcement after the four-hour cabinet meeting. He said the government was complying with a request by Carla del Ponte, the Chief Prosecutor of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

    Del Ponte paid a brief visit to the island last week as part of a tour of countries in the region to gather information about 38 associates of deposed former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

    Rumours that Milosevic channelled million in funds through various countries, including Cyprus, have abounded for years, but the government and Central Bank have consistently denied that the island was involved.

    It is believed that the freeze ordered yesterday concerns 10-15 bank accounts, but the amount of money involved was not disclosed. The freeze will become effective from today.

    “The Council of Ministers has acceded to the request, and we shall ask banks to proceed with freeze on the accounts,” Central Bank Governor Afxentis Afxentiou told Reuters yesterday. “The court asked us to enquire in the past whether Milosevic and four or five of his close associates maintained bank accounts in Cyprus and we found nothing.”

    In May this year, the Central Bank revoked the licence of Beogradska Bank, the largest Serb offshore bank in Cyprus, and the oldest offshore banking unit on the island. The move was made citing insolvency.

    Friday, October 27, 2000

    [02] Louis consulting lawyers over Cabinet moves to bypass duty free ruling

    By Jean Christou

    THE LOUIS Group is in consultations with its lawyers to discuss the government's plans go against a Supreme Court decision, and award the franchise for airport duty-free shops to Cyprus Airways (CY) at any cost.

    Louis was one of several companies which won a Supreme Court battle earlier this month to block government plans to give CY a renewed contract for the shops at the island's two airports without putting the franchise out to tender.

    The Court ruled the contract should be put out to tender when it was due for renewal next year.

    But Finance Minister Takis Klerides on Wednesday said the Council of Ministers would find a way around the court decision by passing legislation, which would allow the government to give the contract back to the national carrier.

    Louis marketing manger and spokesman George Michaelides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday they would wait to see what course the government would take, but added the company was already consulting with its lawyers about the Finance Minister's comments.

    “We have the Supreme Court's decision, which for us is crystal clear and there can be no doubt about it,” Michaelides said.

    Earlier this month, the Court ruled that the renewal of the contract to run the duty free shops at the island's two airports, which CY has held since 1996, should be put out to tender, as should all government contracts involving a public interest.

    CY's contract for the duty free shops expires in May 2001, and the airline was on the brink of renewing, when Louis and other interested parties challenged the procedure.

    The action was not directed against Cyprus Airways, but against the government. CY would be entitled to compete for the contract, but on a level playing field with other companies.

    The loss of the duty free shops would be a major blow to the airline, which has seen its profits shoot up dramatically since it took over the contract.

    In the first eight months of 1996 the duty free shops yielded £500,000 in revenue. In 1997, the shops made a profit of £800,000, in 1998 £2.5 million, and last year £3.9 million.

    CY sources said the Finance Minister was not going to do anything illegal, and that awarding the duty free shops to the airline was the only assistance the national carrier gets from the state.

    Airline spokesman Tassos Angelis said yesterday the government was committed to renewing the contract with CY. “What Cyprus Airways has done for the duty free shops is of benefit to the government and to passengers as well,” he said. “The duty free shops are bigger and better.”

    CY estimates it has doubled the profit from the duty free shops in the past five years.

    Friday, October 27, 2000

    [03] Cold drugs to stay on the shelf as officials dismiss fears

    By Anthony O. Miller

    THE DRUG Council is not pulling from pharmacy shelves nine non-prescription cold drugs containing a compound US authorities fear is harmful when used in high doses in order to lose weight, a Council official said yesterday.

    The compound in question, phenylpropanolamine, is a component in nine over- the-counter (OTC) drugs sold in Cyprus for congestion associated with colds, flu and allergies, said Dr. Giorgos Antoniou, Health Ministry Pharmaceutical Service Officer and Registrar of the Drug Council.

    He said the 11-member Drug Council on Wednesday voted unanimously not to halt pharmacy sales of the nine cold drugs because “the issue (merely) arose from an advisory committee caution to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

    “But the FDA did not take any action; the nine drugs are still marketed in the States,“ he said, and “no other country has taken any restrictive measures on them either.”

    “So up to the present there seems no reason to withdraw them from the market,” he said, and the council further “decided it was not appropriate” to identify the drugs by name.

    In clarifying the problem, Antoniou said, “we have no medications for diets” in Cyprus. “And phenylpropanolamine usually is not the sole agent in the (cold) preparations; some other antihistamines or some other substances are also there.”

    So while phenylpropanolamine can help people lose weight, it doesn't in the concentration present in the preparations used for nasal decongestion, he said.

    Two types of drugs in the US use this compound, he said. One uses only 15 milligrams of phenylpropanolamine for nasal decongestion; another contains only phenylpropanolamine, and is used to control appetite.

    It is this latter type the FDA warning aimed at, he said, as they could cause dangerous side effects in people with heart-attack problems, high blood pressure, previous heart disease or people using other products to lose weight.

    “In Cyprus these (high-risk, weight-loss) products are not circulated,” he said. “We do not have them (and) we have no applications to bring in the diet version of the drug.”

    “If someone applied to bring it in,” he said, “the Drug Council would only approve it “with conditions”.

    “But because these cold preparations contain this (diet) substance in such low concentrations that it's not feasible to use them to control appetite … (they) will not require any prescription or other restrictions” for continued over-the-counter sale, he said.

    Friday, October 27, 2000

    [04] Bourse loses footing again

    By Jean Christou

    AS INVESTORS yesterday prepared vent their anger and frustration at the House of Representatives, the index plunged again by a further 1.26 per cent to hit 305.6 points, only three point shy of a new year low.

    Volume stood at only £15.9 million, one of the lowest in recent weeks as the market shows no sign of stabilising preferring to fumble on from day to day.

    Gains recovered at the beginning of the week were wiped out at yesterday’s session, the second drop in two days. The index opened at 304 points, dropped rapidly to 302 but managed to pull it self up to 306 near the end of trading before sliding back to its close.

    Seven of the 12 sectors ended in the red. Particularly badly hit were the investment, hotels and banking sectors, which lost 1.37 per cent, 1.52 per cent and 2.34 per cent respectively.

    Bank of Cyprus (BoC) shed 14 cents to close at £5.63, Laiki lost 17 cents to end at £7.51. Both banks traded on cash volumes of close to a million pounds.

    The hotels sector would have been harder hit except for the impressive debut of Aqua Sol hotels, which managed, not only to withstand early selling pressure but also to gain five cents on its 42-cent opening. The stock hit an intraday low of 41 before closing at 47 cents trading on 3.9 million shares worth £1.76 million, making it one of the five most active stocks of the day.

    The day’s most active share, GlobalSoft managed to gain back some of the week’s earlier losses, adding three cents to close at £5.83 on a volume of £2.2 million.

    Best performing sector yesterday was fisheries, which gained 5.5 per cent. Telia Aqua Marine jumped nine cents to end at £1.22, Blue Island added six cents to close at £1.73 and Alkione gained one cent to finish at 93 cents.

    “It was another typical day at the CSE,” said one broker. “There is no interest in the market by investors while politicians continue to act like financiers when they know nothing about the market.”

    Friday, October 27, 2000

    [05] Police defend actions over illegal Pyla shopping

    By Jenny Curtis

    LARNACA Police said yesterday they would consider erecting signs in Pyla reminding people it is illegal to buy goods there, after a complaint from a British expat who had a several items bought there confiscated by customs officers.

    Sixty-four year old Robert Jagger from Paralimni is arguing the confiscation was unfair as there are no signs in the village explaining it is against the law.

    In a letter to the Cyprus Mail, Jagger said he and his son had bought two t- shirts each and two pairs of boots from the buffer zone village of Pyla, but were stopped by a plain-clothed police officer as they were leaving the village. The men were arrested and taken first to a nearby police station and then to Larnaca Airport, where a customs officer fined them £30, telling the pair they could collect the goods when they left the island.

    “I must stress there are no signs stating it is illegal to buy, which I tried to explain to the police and customs officer, but I was ignored. I was extremely upset by the whole affair and it still bothers me. I still love Cyprus and everything that goes with it, but for goodness sake was all this necessary?” Jagger said in his letter.

    Charalambous Argyrou, the Superintendent Divisional Commander for Larnaca, admitted he was not aware that there were no notices in the village explaining to visitors they were not allowed to make purchases.

    “If this is the case then yes, I will think about putting some up, but this is something I will have to talk to my superiors about before any action is taken. I must say though that this is the first time in 26 years I have ever heard of someone claiming they did not know it was illegal - certainly ignorance is no defence.”

    He added he believed most people living in Cyprus were already aware of the laws surrounding purchases from Pyla, and that in his opinion many people went there solely to buy illegal goods.

    Argyrou confirmed people were entitled to reclaim their goods from the airport when they left the island, unless they were foodstuffs, in which case they are destroyed. He also pointed out that the fines customs officers imposed were relative to the value of goods involved.

    Friday, October 27, 2000

    [06] Iranian jailed for drugs offences

    By a Staff Reporter

    AN IRANIAN man was yesterday jailed for eight years after being convicted of a string of drugs offences.

    Ali Nuoorwzerf, 36, was found guilty of conspiring to commit a felony, of importing drugs, possessing with the intent to sell, and illegally residing in Cyprus.

    The drug squad arrested Nuoorwzerf at Larnaca airport in June as he was about the leave Cyprus for Damascus.

    He had been put on the stop list after fellow Iranian Yusef Sistalin, who was arrested on December 22 last year after arriving in Cyprus carrying three kilograms of cannabis resin, named him as the person who had paid him to bring the drugs to Cyprus.

    Sistalin is currently serving a five-year sentence for bringing the drugs into the country. He identified Nuoorwzerf with the co-operation of the Iranian embassy in Cyprus and through Iran Air photo files.

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