THE GOVERNMENT has been forced to take action against a businessman using insider information to buy vast amounts of land at low prices knowing that his purchases would soon double in value.
On Friday, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis cancelled certain provisions that were announced last May regarding the upgrading of rural land to urban land in Paphos after suspicious purchases began taking place in the area.
The minister used his authority, according to Article 34A of Land Registry Legislation, to alter a decision that had been made by the cabinet with regards to the upgrade of properties for two villages in Paphos.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Sylikiotis said, “We have received complaints from some of the communities about the land purchases. In light of the information, I then requested an investigation… we want to send the message that the government will not tolerate these kinds of tactics.”
The minister also sent a notion of caution to the residents of the area saying, “I call on the residents and people to be careful with regards to the buying and selling of land in the area because with the investigation now taking place, new alterations could still take place again.”
Government officials became suspicious by the actions of the businessman who was buying vast acres of rural land at low prices. After just a few years, the land was upgraded to urban land, more than doubling the value of the property.
The land that was being snapped up on the cheap was in the areas of Pano Arodes and Neo Chorio.
An investigation into the property buying revealed that for the past two to three years, the businessman had bought a vast amount of private land and a small amount of state owned land.
Although they were bought at low prices their values soon shot up when the land was later upgraded to a holiday home zones.
The unsuspecting landowners who had sold their properties to the businessman did not have any idea that their properties were soon to be converted into zones that could be used for building holiday homes.
The minister demanded an inquiry from the Land Registry Department as well as a full report on the buying and selling of land in the area for the last three to four years.
He had also received complaints from the land owners who felt they had been “cheated”.
According to Politis, the businessman at the heart of the mass purchasing is a close relative of a high-ranking official working at the Land Registry Department and that he was being fed insider information on property upgrades.
It is also believed that the same official in the department had pushed for upgrading the area.
By John Leonidou
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2007