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Aristo investigation widens (Update)

Kings Avenue Mall (Paphos)

Kings Avenue Mall (Paphos)

THE arrest last week of property developer Theodoros Aristodemou sent shockwaves through the island’s business community and may signal that a clique of businessmen with the ‘right connections’ once considered to be immune from prosecution may now be vulnerable.

Aristodemou was released from the Paphos General Hospital on Sunday and has now been transferred to a private clinic in Nicosia with high blood pressure. An officer from the Paphos Municipality who was also remanded in custody for eight days on Saturday in connection with the same case is being treated at the Limassol hospital psychiatric ward.

According to reports, the Police investigation into Aristodemou and his company Aristo Properties has widened to include other Aristo developments as part of an investigation initiated by the Cyprus attorney-general’s office in July.

Police seized more than 150 project files and computer hard discs when they recently raided the company’s headquarters in Paphos. One of the projects being probed is the Kings Avenue Mall in Paphos, but some of the documents have been reported as being ‘missing’ from the file. Other reports say that some data has been erased from the hard discs.

The Registrar of Companies has written to the Paphos Municipality listing the names of companies in which Aristodimou has interests, either as a director or shareholder.

The Municipality has already handed over 179 files to the police and it is anticipated that the files of these companies will be handed over tomorrow.

A document leaked to the press in May showed that Dolphin Capital Investors Two Limited was one of the Bank of Cyprus’ largest debtors owing €300 million. At that time DCI Holdings 1 Ltd had a 49.75% share in the company, while Theodoros Aristodemou held the remaining 50.25% of the shares.

Aristodemou is also under investigation in connection with collapse of the island’s economy, which includes probes into loans granted by former bank officials; arrests are expected by the end of the year.

While Aristodemou was serving on the Board of the Bank of Cyprus and later as its chairman, Aristo’s debt grew from €25 million in 2006 to €200 in 2011 according to a BoC official.

Aristodemou suddenly stepped down as chairman in 2012 citing ‘health reasons’, which occurred at the time when the BoC decided to seek €675 million in emergency aid after suffering heavy losses.

In December last year the Greek language newspaper Politis reported that Aristo Developers had failed to pay the Inland Revenue €2,376,356.10 Immovable Property Tax by the deadline of 30th November.

Meanwhile it has emerged that complaints have been received about another property developer in the Paphos area for building a specific development without planning permission. This developer has not been named and the municipal engineer is looking into the matter to see if the allegations are justified.

Fifth arrest

On Tuesday, the police arrested a fifth suspect in connection with the Aristo case who is being detained at the Paphos Central Police station and is expected to be brought before the Paphos District Court later today (Wednesday).

Police believe that the 39-year-old, an employee of Aristo Developers, forged the Land Registry plan related to the case.