A police official has dismissed claims that investigators failed to root out the culprits in a string of corruption cases across Cyprus several years ago.
The cases have to do with the recent arrests, trials and convictions in the Paphos Sewerage Board (SAPA) scandal which saw former mayor Savvas Vergas among those jailed for bribery and corruption. The second and most recent scandal has to do with the landfills corruption cases around the island.
In both cases, current Paphos Mayor Fedonas Fedonos says that the police had failed in their attempts to chase down the suspects back when some of the allegations were first made back in 2013.
He has also accused some law firms of trying to slow down or even derail the on-going investigations while Fedonos has also accused the police of not doing enough to get back the money that was stole from the public purse in cases where officials were convicted.
Speaking to state radio, Police Spokesperson Andreas Angelides said, “I disagree with comments suggesting that we failed in the initial investigations. When were first assigned these cases by the Legal Services, it was to look into certain areas only. An investigation took place and the report was given to the Legal Services.”
“At the time, nothing criminal was found but suspicions remained and they were noted in the case file. The case file was not closed. Now there are new revelations in the case. As the police, we do not discriminate when investigating individuals and we are determined to root out any form of criminal activity”
Meanwhile, Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides has leapt to the defence of the police arguing that the task force had been much slimmer back in 2013 due to many officers being assigned to the economic meltdown inquiry adding that things are far different today.
Responding to suggestions that many members of the public were angry that some of the stolen money had not been retreaved, he said, “I have to agree with them there. But in the police’s defence, it is very hard to trace back money.”
“In many cases, these individuals are contractors or company owners with a lot of accounts. A few years have elapsed and since then the money has changed many hands and been transferred to different accounts. So getting back the money is not so simple.”