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Land Registry corruption investigation

A number of land registry officials were taking bribes according to an internal audit and are under investigation for corruption; warrants have been issued to locate the money they took.

Corruption investigation at land registryAUTHORITIES are investigating at least five land registry workers for corruption, Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said on Tuesday.

The employees are suspected of carrying out official business for various applicants but pocketing the fees themselves.

“The normal way is for an individual or bank to pay the fee and receive a result. In this case there was a detour and there was a relation between land registry officials with legal entities,” Hasikos said.

The alleged fraud concerned certificates issued by the department to interested, and authorised, parties who pay to find out what property an individual or company have in their name.

Such a search could cost between €50 and €70 if done through the official channel.

These are carried out by banks for example but the cost is usually paid by their customer. Banks usually do bulk searches.

It is understood that the case concerns thousands of applications.

Hasikos did not say whether the suspects charged the official fee or less. But it is understood that one of the motives for clients may have been the speed with which their application was processed.

“What is certain is that they took money,” the minister said.

Hasikos said it was an old story, reported back in 2012.

“At some point it froze and we had no result,” he added. “Our administration revisited the matter and we are seeing with satisfaction that the legal service is investigating.”

Hasikos told reporters to ask the previous administration why nothing incriminating came up two years ago.

Readers' comments

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  • soap box says:

    I have been progressing my title deeds for property bought in 2005 since 2007. Every year a different official smiled and told me that everything was in order and that we should not have to wait very long for the issue of the deeds. Luckily I have documented and recorded many of my interviews so will be ready for court action. It is unbelievable how lazy and unpatriotic the Registry and Planning Offices are. All properties on my development in Pyrgos have been sold and owners are able and willing to pay the purchase property tax.

    This is Cyprus! Has the administration done anything right since independence?

  • sue says:

    No surprise there!! No wonder the country went bust, wish I’d never bought a property, it’s like a millstone around my neck !!

  • Richard says:

    Cyprus really is the extreme manifestation of what’s gone wrong across the whole of the developed world.

    Greed & corruption are the (snake) oil in the machinery of daily life.

    Ordinary people need to wise up and educated and then apply steady, persistent force to push bank on it and get some control back in their lives.

    Let’s not kid ourselves that it’s just happening in Cyprus. Anyone remember the reverend Paul Flowers running the Co-op banks in the UK a few years ago? His porn and drugs habits whilst running the ‘nice’ bank. The ‘respectable’ US seats of learning like Harvard, Columbia and Yale who endorsed (and encouraged) the re-capitalisation structure of Iceland resulting in a $100+bn loan against annual GDP of just $13bn.

    And now Cyprus – a rampant spree of misinformation, misdeeds and bail-outs.

    It strikes me that it isn’t just Cyprus that’s rotten to the core – but the whole global western banking and financing structures in place – and the people behind them – pulling all the strings.

    That’s our battle….

  • Stuart says:

    Cyprus’ former finance minister, Charilaos Stavrakis, has said that Cyprus is a small country and one can see that some people who entered politics poor have subsequently become very rich.

    So when a corrupt authority appoints investigators to investigate corruption, who will get investigated? Just five land registry workers!

  • Steve R says:

    I have a property on an unfinished development and the chance of me ever owning this property are NIL. The builder has disappeared and the company has been in receivership for 2 years. Because there is no completion certificate the properties on the site are still an asset of the company even though they have been paid for in full by the owners. I moved out to Cyprus full time in March 2013 and I now live in the said property.

    I have a 40% mortgage with the bank taken out in Swiss Francs. I have written an open letter to the bank stating the position I am in and that I would only pay what amounts to be a reasonable rent which was set by me. The bank acknowledged my letter and stated they would put this to the committee. I have not heard a thing since either from the bank or from the receiver. That was nearly 2 years ago.

  • MartynG says:

    This is just another, but significant, piece in the Cyprus corruption jigsaw; this LR piece obviously discovered a couple of years ago but, for whatever reasons?, inquiries shelved.

    Slowly under the current Administration, doubtless under pressures emanating from the Troika, the layers of the stinking onion are, one-by-one, being peeled back.

    @Scruffy: what a sensible idea: hindsight is a fine thing of course, but why not others use Bank’s review processes to offer this method, going forward?

    @Andrew: yes, the whole Cyprus LR operations need to be put under the microscope, thoroughly investigated: what is revealed in this particular article is likely but a pin-prick compared to what has been going on institutionally, nay, governmentally over many years!

    @pils: you are just one, but nevertheless significant, case in many thousands who have suffered, clearly still are suffering: there is at last, though, a tide flowing towards uncovering these many and varied – and often connected – corrupt practices: joined with others similarly affected you may yet get some, however belated, redress/compensation. don’t let the corrupt Cyprus systems drag you down.

  • Costas Apacket says:

    I’m sure that we’re all totally shocked by this news!

  • scruffy says:

    @Pils

    I am amazed that many more do not walk away. The advice has always been to keep paying the mortgage regardless of the problems you have encountered

    I myself took this advice and now wish I had walked away. What I should have done was, when my mortgage balance was substantially more than it is now, told the bank I will no longer pay my mortgage but put the mortgage money in a separate account until such times they will agree co operate and negotiate properly.

    If the thousands affected had taken this route I think the banks would have had to completely change tact as they would have been in even deeper trouble than they are.

    Also, in light of the ever growing list of corrupt individuals and now organisations involved in property selling coming to light and facing investigation, I find it difficult to believe that should you have ended up in a European Court you would lose given the level of corruption and deception that is now being uncovered.

  • Andrew says:

    If land is purchased with a mortgage, or subsequently re-mortgaged, this will be referred to in the Charges Register.

    The purpose of registering a mortgage is to ensure that anybody who deals with the land, either by a conveyance or by granting a further loan secured against the property, will have notice that there is a mortgage which takes priority to subsequent legal interests.

    So when we hear talk about corruption it would make sense to investigate why the Land registry departments played a part in misleading thousands of buyers into buying encumbered land.

  • pils says:

    Cyprus rotten to the core, who can you trust. The whole country is corrupt i.e. lawyers, developers, banks, government officials and now land registry office.

    We are in the process of negotiating our mis-sold Cyprus mortgage, we prefer to walk away from Cyprus and our mortgage for good.

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