Many many summers ago, when Cyprus was being accused of harbouring money-launderers, the Serious Financial Crime Squad of the police (aka MOKAS) came into being, with the hope that it would deal with what its name clearly describes. Since then, accusations of money laundering continue to harass Cyprus officials with little light ever being shed into any investigations or even anyone being investigated, let alone being brought to justice.
Then came what populist MPs like to call “the stock exchange scandal” where we all know that the real perpetrators were not people with suitcases of cash seeking refuge in Bahamas, but in fact the lawyers, accountants, public officials and greedy directors who made things happen. In an effort to show that a thorough investigation was underway, hundreds if not thousands of interviews took place that involved anybody even remotely associated to the stock market. As a result, the media were also targeted, but once again the investigators failed to get to any final conclusions.
Now, we have another scandal in our hands – property fraud and the crooked developers and their corrupt friends in high public places who are giving the few remaining reputable real estate companies a hard time.
At a time when the island’s property market is facing serious challenges from cheaper destinations and resorts, as well as shoddy and rampant development in the occupied north, one would have thought that some public officials might actually be interesting in resolving these problems that could harm the island’s economy (and their pockets) in the long term.
One would also assume that as the Attorney General has the authority to launch an investigation on its own will, so too has the MOKAS team.
Why then is little being done when every possible public office (Attorney General, MOKAS, Ombudsman, police CID) is often approached with complaints about a crooked developer or a corrupt lawyer or a thieving accountant and almost nothing is done?
These cases seem to head for the mountain of files piling up in the world of bureaucracy where no senior public official is willing to take the initiative and decide to clamp down on such cases of blatant fraud.
If property fraud is not a serious financial crime, then what is?
Copyright © Financial Mirror Limited 2007