A 50-YEAR-OLD man was arrested on Thursday and remanded for three days by the Paphos court on Friday in connection with the fraudulent sale of property to a Chinese investor.
He is suspected of being the partner of a 43-year-old man who was arrested a week ago and remanded on Sunday for eight days.
The suspect faces charges of criminal conspiracy, extorting money under false pretences and money laundering, the alleged crimes having been committed between June 7 and July 27 in Paphos.
To complete their investigations, police need to take another 14 statements and are still waiting for the lifting of banking secrecy and data communications of the 50-year-old. There will also be two identity parades.
The judge noted that several of the statements would have to be taken in Mandarin, which would be done with the aid of an interpreter, which, he agreed, made the process more time-consuming.
The initial complaint was made by a woman aged 25 from China who is a permanent resident of Cyprus. In February this year, when she was in the village of Nata to look at some pieces of land she was interested in buying, she was allegedly approached by a stranger who offered to put her in contact with a friend who had plots of land for sale.
She accepted the proposal and gave the man her mobile phone number.
In late February and early March, the 43-year-old man phoned her and introduced himself as a real-estate agent. They then made an appointment in Yeroskipou.
The 50-year-old was at the meeting, the court heard, and was introduced as the suspect’s partner.
The pair then showed the Chinese investor a number of plots and buildings they said were for sale. These included an apartment complex in Yeroskipou and agricultural land in Koilinia and Anarita, property of the 50-year-old.
At the end of May, the two suspects also showed her, her husband and father-in-law a five-bedroom house in Chlorakas in which the Chinese woman and her family expressed an interest.
She was told the price was €1.2m but the duo suggested they could get the owner to knock the price down to €800,000, but that the Chinese investor should not try negotiating herself as there was a risk the owner would increase the price if they learned the buyer was a foreign investor.
Two days later, the 43-year-old visited the complainant’s home and asked for and was given €60,000 in 500 euro notes, saying he would give the money as a deposit to the owner of the sale property in order to help secure a better deal.
Investigators told the court that negotiations continued, according to the plaintiff, in an effort to lower the price. On June 19, the 43-year-old visited her again telling her that the owner had accepted the offer of €800,000 provided she hand over another €140,000 in cash in addition to the €60,000 already paid. However, she was not presented with any contract.
The scam came to light last Wednesday when the Chinese woman reported the case to police after she found out the owner of the property had no knowledge that it was being sold.