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Property scam shows ugly face of corruption

It has been a long common secret that if you want anything done with your property, then you need to know the right people, in the right place and have the right amount in your pocket.

property corruptionPERHAPS now is the time to ask some embarrassing questions. To begin with, who is the Director of Lands and Surveys for the whole of Cyprus? What is his annual pay scale and is it performance related? Does he actually exist or is he, like Brezhnev, alive in body only?

The reason for this line of questioning is very simple: If such a person/post exists, why has he not sacked the local Director in Paphos and as many of his lackeys as necessary?

It has been a long common secret that if you want anything done with your (or adjacent) property, then you need to know the right people, in the right place and have the right amount in your pocket.

Then came along the “powerful” watchdogs, namely the Ombudsman (for your complaints in the case of wrongdoing by public officials), and the Auditor General, who thoroughly inspects every single set of public accounts of every government office and department. The result? Nothing! They were followed by public interest groups, the latest being the local chapter of Transparency International. Have they achieved anything? Hardly.

Although the efforts of those aforementioned should be commendable, they never seem to have gone to the heart of the problem. In other words, to catch the crooks with a hand in the cookie jar. (For now, let’s not discuss the anti-money laundering police unit Mokas). Imagine, all it took was a disgruntled (politically motivated maybe?) mayor to give the order and, lo and behold, a huge case file has been built up involving a major property developer and two (for now) municipal officials. You may ask, just two?

Nothing will ever change until our ego-driven buffoons of politicians proceed to implement clear regulations that will ensure transparency and meritocracy, starting with their own declarations in cases of conflict of interest.

Despite the President’s grandiose statements ordering his cabinet to declare everything at the start of the term, events have proven how misguided this show has been. People in places still get things done, their way.

Unless the law on whistle-blowers is passed and properly adhered to (without friends or relatives exerting pressure on investigators) nothing will ever change. And judging from the apathy by politicians and consumers alike who are sinking their heads deep into the sand, saying that “if banks dished out loans, why shouldn’t we accept them?” we continue to use the pressure system to get away with past mistakes. We don’t realise that we are burdening our future generations, i.e. our sons and daughters, who will have to foot the bill of today’s corruption and incompetence, with the risk of even losing their pensions, if they ever had any hope of getting one.

Where, then, does the buck stop? Anybody?

Readers' comments

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  • Innocent-naive-hoping to retire-to-Cyprus says:

    not a bright idea to buy a place for retirement in Cyprus then?

  • Stanos says:

    In reading the aforementioned stories on Cyprus corruption with title deeds, property, Government, police and everything that goes along with it, I agree and have experienced first hand how lethal the poison of the Cypriot venom can be when they destroyed me and took all my life savings from Laiki Bank to save themselves. Every cent I earned living in S.Africa and Australia for 45 Years with taxation duly paid, these Cypriot scums took everything I made in my life.

    It is the same as I have been raped and worse. They raped my Wife Son and daughter by taking my whole Life.

    I wish this country the worst fortune and catastrophe in the future, as I have come to hate my own people and my place of birth.

    They will Pay one day and I hope they do so with their lives and their entire families too.

    I hate them to death.

  • Jill says:

    Sorry – can’t agree with the last bit. The children will be taught to duck and dive all responsibility by parents who are past masters at it!!!

  • Pauline Read says:

    A mirror image of the north. I often wonder why two peoples with the same mindset cannot get on.

    The difference is only in numbers and that is relative to the sales figures.

  • Gavin Jones says:

    Rogue state run by rogues for the benefit of rogues.

    Even if the state went belly up, nothing would change. Nirvana could only be achieved if outsiders held the reins of power.

    The troika in their naivety thought that they could indulge in a bit of cajoling here, have a few meetings there and all would be well. Quite. They have absolutely no idea who or what they’re dealing with.

    Better to allow the whole rotten edifice to sink under its own weight of corruption and fantasy. Logic, reason and the concept of boundaries have no place in Cyprus.

    If anyone should know, I do as I’ve had a lifetime’s experience and despite my knowledge of what goes on, have fallen foul of the system.

    If someone like me can’t cut the mustard, most of you reading this have absolutely no chance whatsoever.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Costas Afortune. I recall that BBC Inside Out did a programme on an alleged dubious 500m pound property scheme run by Alpha Panareti and David Walton MEP tabled a question in the European Parliament about an alleged fraudulent off-plan property scheme run by the same company. Is this the company which you refer to?

  • Costas Afortune says:

    About 2yrs ago the BBC did a programme on British TV entitled “500 million pound property fraud”. This was about a Paphos based developer, a Paphos based lawyer, and a Paphos based bank. It portrayed many faults and pitfalls about buying in Cyprus but nobody seems to have acted or in fact give a same about the levels of lies, deceit and corruption that goes on in Cyprus. Questions must now be asked on a larger scale and jail the conmen that are bringing this island to its knees.

  • @j chiromerides on 2014/09/25 at 3:51 pm – I agree with you that the Property Transfer Fees are expensive. The transfer fees are a government tax that is paid when a property changes hands – and this cannot happen until its Title Deed has been issued and is available for transfer.

    This and many other problems would be overcome if only the Land Registry could have the deeds available for transfer when a property is delivered to its buyer. Other countries can manage to do this – but for Cyprus, it appears to be an impossible task.

    I cannot see any reason why Property Transfer Fees couldn’t be paid monthly (say) over a 12 month period. But it will give rise to further bureaucracy and possibly more jobs for ‘family and friends’.

  • j chiromerides says:

    Concerning the title deeds I think lot of people cannot afford to pay especially when they have had the property for quite a few years it been a hard times for everyone, surely why cannot title deeds be added at time of purchase or maybe paid monthly but l think it is still expensive.

  • Steve says:

    One thing that can be, and probably needs to be, changed is the expectations of the expatriates. The North-West Europeans have been brought up in a different culture and expect others to think and behave as the majority in Western Europe would. Cyprus has a lot of other influences and attitudes that are not in our make-up and because we do not allow for different behaviour we are easily fleeced. It is everywhere, not just the property industry or the political arena or the Civil Service…..everywhere in Cypriot life, not just buying houses and paying taxes. Many, including me, thought the regulatory compliance and related influences of joining the EU would change things, but have been seriously disappointed.

  • Mike says:

    An excellent piece of informative journalism obviously written by someone who actually knows how we operate and have always operated in Cyprus.

    The answer to the last question is in fact – the buck never stops anywhere. That is the beauty of the system. You could spend the rest of your lifetime chasing shadows and leads in order to determine areas of responsibility but it all overlaps with various officialdoms and as a consequence no one organisation, ministry or individual will nor can they accept responsibility.

    To “implement clear regulations that will ensure transparency and meritocracy” will only serve to burst this protective shield so will never happen and declaring conflicts of interest will never happen either if left to be voluntary. I venture to suggest that the only time any of these issues will be addressed is if and when robust laws are enacted with accompanying draconian fines for non compliance. If not declaring business interests or transferring/hiding interests in a manner, legal or otherwise, designed to deceive carried a fine of €12 million for each offence then, and only then, might we see some, although not absolute, improvement.

  • Peter Davis says:

    Nothing will change because the expats complain, they have no power, unless they vote on mass to stop paying taxes. Things will only change when the GC complain in sufficient numbers. The ill-treatment of foreigners is well documented and something of a sport.

    My sister-in-law went to the tax office yesterday to pay her IPT. As she had not received any notification she called at the 1st floor tax office for a form, (even though she’d paid last year).

    Having then gone to the tax office and handed the money over, she looked at the address on the receipt and it was the wrong one, right person, right tax number, but the address is in another village. She complained but was told “NO” they couldn’t print another receipt for the money, she’s no idea whose IPT she paid other than it wasn’t hers. Sitting in the office was another GC employee who found the experience of a ‘frustrated Brit’ highly amusing. It appeared it made his day.

    The tax office records also showed that the 10% discount given last year for early payment was still outstanding, even though she’d paid the IPT early to get the 10% discount. The clerk was also trying to collect this from her. So that rolls over still incurring interest.

    One hopes that many will lose their jobs, but somehow I doubt it.

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