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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-07-24
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
 Phone scam 'far bigger than originally estimated'By Soteris Charalambous
THE POLICE have confirmed that their investigation into an illegal telecommunications network that billed calls to a branch of the Bank of Cyprus has revealed that the scam involves thousands of calls and exceeds the £200,000 originally estimated.
Initial police estimates put the number of calls in the hundreds, but sources at the Bank of Cyprus revealed that the figure of 700 illegal international calls had been the number recorded from the time surveillance equipment was installed.
Phone bills totalling hundreds of thousands for a single month originally aroused suspicions after being reported by a bank employee. According to the source, the true number of illegal calls made is in excess of 10,000.
Head of CID for the Nicosia District Panayiotis Pelagias, who is leading the investigation, said yesterday: "all I can say at this stage is that the investigation is ongoing and that I cannot release any further details about the case." He described the investigation as both "difficult and complex", given the high-tech nature of the crime and confirmed that the original suspects remanded last week had since been released without charge. The calls were traced to a Latsia newsagent's, where police found a telephone system diverting calls from Europe, Canada and America to various countries in Asia, the Far East and North America and charging them to the bank.
Costas Yiallouros, Head of Security at the Bank of Cyprus, said yesterday the bank had launched its own internal investigation but immediately ruled out the possibility of employees from the bank being involved. Yiallouros was unable to confirm the sums involved in the scam until CyTA released details about calls made through the call centre, although he did state that no monies had been paid by the bank to CyTA for the telecommunication lines under investigation.
Nortel (who supplied the original system) have sent telecommunications experts from the UK to advise on the investigation, and they are expected to arrive in Cyprus today. According to the Telecommunications Manager at the bank, much of the investigation is dependent on the evidence uncovered by CyTA as both the police and the Bank of Cyprus are awaiting more information before being able to release details. He refuted claims by CyTA that the swindle had been facilitated by a weakness in the bank's telephone system. "I complained to CyTA about their statement, because any system can be broken into with access to the right codes. Somebody somehow found the codes and broke into our telecommunications system." He also claimed that with the correct access codes all systems were vulnerable to abuse, adding, "I understand that CyTA's own system has experienced similar problems."
CyTA were unavailable for comment on the investigation.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Where will the selling stop?By Jean Christou
THE selling frenzy continued on the stock market yesterday, pushing the index to a new low and volume to worrying heights.
The index hit 84 points mid-session but rallied slightly to close at 85.2 with overall losses of 0.94 per cent. Blue chips were also hit, but not to the same extent, losing 0.89 per cent to take the FTSE/CySE index to 359 points. Selling pressure was evident from the day's trading volume, which stood at £1.22 million and the three main banks again topped the most active list. Trading in blue chips accounted for 67 per cent of the total volume.
"Just when analysts predict the worst is over and that the market is done retreating, a new selling spree pops up and forces the market to new lows," said one web commentator.
Sectoral results yesterday ranged from losses of 0.6 per cent in the trading sector to 3.74 per cent in the insurance sector. Gains were recorded in the investment sector, up 1.31 per cent, fish culture companies up 0.13 per cent, and hotels, which rose 0.25 per cent. The banking sector accounted for 52 per cent of total activity yesterday, but ended the day 1.18 per cent poorer.
Bank of Cyprus lost another two cents to close at £1.39 while Laiki and Hellenic both ended the day unchanged at £1.16 and £0.71.
Nicosia broker Demos Stavrides told the Cyprus Mail that he had predicted three months ago that the index would hit 85. "Now we are at 85 points but nobody really knows what will happened next," he said. "Maybe it will go to 65 points."
Stavrides said there were a lot of external factors affecting he market and keeping away even the big investors. He cited the pending results of various investigations into listed companies plus the instability in the political arena due to the crisis in Turkey.
However, these were not the main reasons, he said. "The reason is the bubble we had two years ago and now nobody wants to look at the stock market."
As a broker, Stavrides said he would advise any potential investors not to buy stocks until the market had stabilised at around 95 points and even then to invest in 'safe' stocks such as banks.
"If people have money to invest, which they don't, I would advise them to invest little by little but not now at this level," he said citing the 95- point benchmark.
"I think in long run they would take some profits but I don't think this profit would be enough to take the risk involved."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Hospital delays under the microscopeBy George Psyllides
COMPLETION of the new Nicosia hospital has so far been delayed around 280 weeks while costs have jumped from the initial estimate of £38 million to £50 million, the House Finance Committee heard yesterday.
Of the 280 weeks of delay, the communications ministry only accepts 97 as justified. According to Minister Averoff Neophytou, the contract provides for £9,000 to be paid by the contractor for every day of delay.
Construction of the new hospital had started in 1996 and it was expected to be complete by February 2002.
In April, Neophytou said the deadline had been pushed to June 2003, though yesterday he told the committee that every possible effort would be made for the hospital to be delivered by December 29, 2003.
Around 1,500 changes costing £2.5 million have been made on the initial plans, the committee heard.
A centre for paraplegics, a new nursing school, underground parking lot and incinerator were all added on later at a cost of £7.2 million, Neophytou said.
Additional changes in the electro-mechanical installations have cost a further £1.5 million, the minister added.
Auditor-general Chrystalla Yiorkadji said she had concluded that the serious delays were due to weaknesses in planning.
She added that she had classified the delays according to the problems in the planning, weaknesses in the studies done by private counsellors, and unforeseeable conditions such as the rainy weather and the discovery of caves on the building site.
The cost of the medical equipment is currently estimated at £25 million while the initial estimates were £12 million.
Finance Minister Takis Klerides said the cost for the equipment had gone up due to developments in technology.
AKEL deputy Stavros Evagorou stressed that apart from the financial costs, the delays were having a social cost, since the old hospital was deteriorating and the public were not getting the service they were entitled to expect.
Neophytou warned that as long as the state delayed checks and decision- making "they create a heaven for contractors".
In April, Neophytou told the Cyprus Mail that every week of delay could cost taxpayers up to £30,000 to £40,000.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Student union slams colleges for promoting funBy Alexia Saoulli
STUDENT years are the best years of your life, is the message that Intercollege's television advertisements are trying to get across, Intercollege Dean Nikos Persianis said yesterday.
Persianis was responding to a statement from the Progressive Student Movement that the ads shown on television did not promote "education as a serious social virtue" and that tertiary education was about being able to compete in tomorrow's workforce, not about having fun and going to parties.
Petros Cleanthos, a member of the left-wing movement, said that although it was not bad to combine fun with studies, it should not be promoted as the "be all and end all" of student life.
"It is not bad to have a good time during your student years, but your priority should be your studies and achieving a good degree. The whole point about higher education is getting a degree so that you can compete with foreign universities and the University of Cyprus in tomorrow's market."
He told the Cyprus Mail that it "upset" the Movement that education was not being taken seriously and that he was afraid naive school leavers would fall into the trap of applying to a private college based on its entertainment criteria and not on its educational standards.
"We want to protect the public from making a mistake by not looking into the courses the colleges are offering thoroughly. These advertisements on television by certain colleges (which he chose not to name) give the impression that they don't care about education and that the whole point of studying is to have fun. If they are able to rope people in like that, maybe they will be able to take advantage of them in other ways in the future," said Cleanthos.
"The messages in these ads undermine people's intelligence. Private colleges should be coming out and stating why they are educationally superior to one another and what sort of courses will help students get a top job in the future or even transfer abroad for a Master's degree. Instead they are competing, through the media, about which institution will be more recreational."
But Intercollege Dean Persianis disagrees.
"For years we have split our advertising campaign into two. One half is more serious and promotes the education quality of the college, as well as the top professors we have on our staff, and the other is more light- hearted and youthful," he said, adding that this year the college decided to promote the light-hearted ads first, although the more "serious" ads would be aired on national television within the week.
"Life is about love, solidarity, friendship, enjoying relationships and happy experiences," he said. "This is what our advertising campaign is trying to promote and why our slogan is 'the best years of your life'."
Peristianis said the Progressive Student Movement was puritanical in its ideology and that its view on education was very one sided.
"Of course getting a good degree is vitally important, but having a good time is equally so. These are life experiences we are talking about and memories that will stay with you forever. In fact, I think these experiences should be respected and encouraged," he said, adding that when students transferred abroad he always told them that they must remember to have fun and to bond with fellow students, as it was an important of shaping who they would become.
"In the past, we only used to have very serious ads, but then after coming into contact with a number of students on campus we realised that is not what it's all about. A young school leaver, for instance, is not interested in the fact that we have 50 leading educators on board. They will only come to appreciate that once they have joined the college. What will pique their interest is the idea of having a good time as well and happy experiences."
He citied an ad about a student who was late for class and tried to sneak in unnoticed by the teacher. Just as the student thinks he's gotten away with it, his mobile phone rings and he's given away. "That kind of ad is just the thing I'm talking about: a fun experience that could realistically happen and be looked back on fondly by students. Not all our ads are about parties; some show students painting in a group. What they are trying to get across is bonding, spending time with your peers and growing together. If anyone tries to tell you they are not important, they don't know what they're talking about. Education and happy times are both on an equal footing. Neither must be neglected for the other," he stressed.
Intercollege wants students to know that although four years at Intercollege will be hard work, they will also be fun, he said.
"I don't want to create puritans out of them," said Persianis.
Cyprus College President, Andreas Eleftheriades, was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Two accused of credit card fraudBy a Staff Reporter
TWO Estonian men were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days after they were arrested in Limassol in connection with the use of forged credit cards to obtain goods and property.
The court heard that Vidali Aeropetian had been wanted since last month in connection with circulating forged credit cards and obtaining goods and property worth around £4,000 from various shops in Limassol.
During that time, the credit card company reported to police they had traced several suspicious transactions involving credit cards with American credit card numbers.
Police determined that the cases were linked, while Aeropetian had been identified using cctv footage as the man allegedly circulating the cards.
Aeropetian, however, managed to escape arrest by leaving Cyprus before police could track him down.
His name was placed on the stop-list and he was arrested on Monday after he flew in at Larnaca airport.
On the same day, an airport worker found a wallet in the arrivals hall, which apparently belonged to a second Estonian and contained 25 forged credit cards.
Police searched the airport and found Vidali Tavitz shortly afterwards.
He was arrested and allegedly admitted he had arrived together with Aeropetian,
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Ethics committee appeals for media sensitivityBy a Staff Reporter
THE JOURNALIST Ethics Committee has urged the mass media to observe the provisions of the ethics code after at least two cases in which reports caused unnecessary grief and failed to respect children.
In a written statement, the committee said it was especially concerned about violations by the broadcast media, which due to their speed in reporting news, affected the lives of citizens.
The committee said ethics had been violated in two cases. The first concerned two accidents in the army - one where a conscript died after being struck by lightening, the second when several soldiers were injured after a grenade explosion. The second case concerned the alleged suicide attempt of an eight-year-old boy and the ensuing reports about the frequency of such phenomena.
In the case of the conscript's death, his father found out from the radio, before the army had had the chance to contact the family, the committee said.
In the second army incident, in which several soldiers were injured, the media were broadcasting the news without disclosing the names, causing distress among hundreds of families whose sons served in the National Guard.
In the case of the eight-year-old's alleged attempted suicide, the committee said it had been saddened by the lack of respect towards minors, and stressed that journalists should not forget that children tended to emulate and should handle such cases with more responsibility.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Missing back on the agendaBy a Staff Reporter
THE GREEK Cypriot side yesterday handed over a document on the missing persons to Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash with its reply to a paper he had submitted on the issue.
The document was handed over after the regular Cyprus talks meeting between Denktash and President Glafcos Clerides.
The missing persons issue was discussed on a humanitarian basis in the presence of the UN Secretary General's Acting Special Representative in Cyprus Zbigniew Wlosowicz, Presidential Commissioner on Humanitarian Issues Takis Christopoulos and Turkish Cypriot representative to the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) Rustem Tatar.
The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) reported that during yesterday's meeting on the Cyprus problem, the two leaders discussed the substance of the Cyprus problem, but did not look specifically at any of the four core issues, governance, territory, security and property.
Clerides and Denktash will meet again on Friday to continue the talks, after which
Denktash is expected to give some answers to the Greek Cypriot side's positions on the missing.
The Greek Cypriot side wants the implementation of a 1997 agreement on the issue of missing persons, signed by Clerides and Denktash. The agreement provides for the exhumation of remains in the government-controlled areas and in the Turkish-occupied north.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002