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Limassol land registry operating like a free-for-all

The situation in the Limassol Land Registry is chaotic with complaints of dodgy practices, bogus claims for travel expenses and overtime pay, co-workers covering for each other, etc.

Cyprus: Limassol land registryTHE LIMASSOL district land registry is operating like a free-for-all, with staff frequently covering for one another by punching in co-workers’ cards – the most glaring case occurring recently where an employee punched in for a colleague who, unknown to him at the time, had died the night before.

The reveals came out at the House watchdog committee, discussing cases of misconduct reported to the auditor-general.

A land registry employee at the Limassol office had reported 24 instances of delinquency at the workplace. For his trouble, he was subsequently transferred elsewhere, in what he described as a vindictive act by his superiors.

The employee had initially tried to report these goings-on to his superiors, but was ignored, which was why he turned whistle-blower and contacted the auditor-general.

The man, who was also in parliament describing his experience, said he was told at the time by a colleague that the director of the land registry, Andreas Socratous, was “furious” with him for “being troublesome.”

In the most blatant example, an employee had punched in on behalf a colleague who was deceased at the time.

On January 14 this year, the employee punched in for his colleague Christos Michael, unaware that Michael had been murdered the previous night.

The cheating employee was issued a ‘severe’ written reprimand for trying to ‘cover’ for Michael.

Michael, 44, was shot dead in his car in a field in Polemidia on the evening of January 13. Police have charged three men, all brothers, who are to stand trial for premeditated murder in April. The men have reportedly confessed to the crime, saying they wanted to rob the victim.

On Michael’s person police found a gramme of cocaine and €4,200 in cash.

Commenting on employees cheating with their punch-cards, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides stated:

“The least that can be said about this is that the manager’s supervision is inadequate.”

Other complaints of dodgy practices at the land registry included irregular or entirely bogus reimbursement claims for travel expenses and for overtime pay, as well as apparent favouritism toward certain businessmen.

In one instance, the Limassol land registry office valued a plot of land in Ypsonas. It later transpired that a villa was located inside the plot. But the official ‘forgot’ to update the file with that information.

As a result, rather than pay €9,000 in property tax – to account for the residence as well – the land owner paid just €3,000.

The auditor-general will be asking the interior ministry to conduct an investigation into all these reports.

In parliament, MPs piled on Socratous, the director of the department of lands and surveys.

Socratous conceded that problems existed, but pushed back, arguing that complaints should go through the proper channels rather than being sensationalised.

He and MP Pavlos Mylonas had a heated exchange, with the latter accusing the former of seeking to sweep problems under the rug.

“This code of silence [in the civil service] needs to be broken. People who blow the whistle should be afforded protection,” Mylonas said.

Readers' comments

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  • Lilly says:

    It is at least heartening to see Agios Demetriou’s comments. The government should realalise ‘Charlies’ are people too!

    The scandal of Title Deeds should be taken seriously, and given proper consideration.

  • adam Lomas says:

    Why are we suprised that there are dodger “goings on” at the Land registry in Limassol, those of us who have been waiting for our title deeds in paphos, know that despite all the recent promises from government to sort out the mess, we still don’t have access too a well functioning Land Registry.

    Unfortunately if you are “known” by the people who run these places it appears not to be a problem, and almost anything can be registered, however if you are just a client who wants his deeds any excuse will do to delay, delay and delay further.

    I’ve been “offered” by a lawyer in Pafos (needless to say what nationality” a way to “circumvent the process”, of course it cost money….!
    I resisted, I want a clean deed, with no backhanders.

    the government has stated over and over again they have a gentleman agreement with the banks, but I haven’t found the gentleman in a Bank yet who knows what this means

  • Aggis Demetriou says:

    The Untoichables! no matter what dirt or scams are uncovered nobody will do anything as I can’t see the government wanting to loose any valuable votes, when are you readers ever going to realise it’s all politics?

    Are you really foolish enough to think they will remove any employee?

    They have a job for life and beyond, they are The Untouchables”

    The guy who had he’s head blown off over a drug deal that went wrong back in January was a government employee for god sake? Wake up people!

    Nothing will be done as it’s Mafia controlled all you need to see is the presidents ontourage driving down the sea front road, they even look like Mafia with their blacked out windows in there shiny black mafia style cars, it’s all votes and money
    Why should they care about 30,000 Charlie’s with no titles.

  • Deanna says:

    I have every faith in Odysseas to sort this out.

  • Aggis Demetriou says:

    Many years ago when I was in social housing late 80s there was a huge back log of rents to be paid by a London council, the government simply reposted the staff elsewhere and brought in a private company from America they sorted the problem out within months.

    What I can’t get my head around is why should any property violations delay in a title issue?

    Issue of title should be given once planning permission has been approved and once built to standards acceptable, then the property can be allowed to be sold

    It’s not very difficult to sort out and this will cut out any back handers.

    Ed: Whoever they brought in to do the work would need to be fluent in spoken and written Greek. And they’d need to be trained in the antediluvian processes used by the DLO not only for the work they do on Title Deeds, but all the other stuff.

  • Aggis Demetriou says:

    No **** Sherlock !
    The attorney general should be sacked as well as every employee in the Limassol Land Registry.

    Ed: Something needs to be done! But who’s going to do their work?

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