State denied €21 mln in uncollected court fines

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A total of €21.3 mln in court fines from 26,889 cases in 2022 never made it to state coffers, with courts issuing warrants for police to either collect or take further action.

Phileleftheros daily said courts issued 36,728 warrants worth €26.99 mln from January to 9 December 2022.

Police officers have only been able to collect under 1000 worth €5.5 mln. As of this week, 26,889 pending warrants worth €21.356 mln are uncollected.

Despite officers assigned to the warrant collection squad, they need help to cope with the heavy backlog.

The main problem is that offenders are deliberately not coming forward to receive their fines from post offices when sent registered letters from the authorities.

This trend built up over the pandemic and worsened with the financial crisis.

Authorities provide offenders with an instalment payment solution through the Attorney General’s office; however, offenders prefer to avoid receiving the fine altogether.

Auditor General, Odysseas Michaelides, has in the past suggested workarounds, such as connecting the courts’ computerised system with the police to avoid any mistakes.

Michaelides has also suggested increasing the amount of a fine that is immediately payable.

At the same time, with the imposition of a fine, the details of the convicted person should be requested, so they are updated in the state’s records.

Most fines involve traffic violations and debts to social security services.

A special officer, Senior Constable Andreas Angelides, oversees all actions taken to execute warrants.

Since his appointment on 25 October 2021, more than €11 mln has flowed into the coffers, almost one million more than in the previous period.

The actions being taken now are targeted and concern warrants for those not registered as unemployed or bankrupt and can pay the fines due.

According to the available data, the most money collected from warrants was in Nicosia, while Limassol saw the highest number of warrants executed.

According to data obtained by Phileleftheros, from 25 October 2021, until 6 December 2022, 74,573 warrants were executed, and €11,598,045 was received.

In Nicosia, 19,061 warrants were executed worth €3,678,170 to the state coffers.

In Limassol, 29,316 warrants were executed for €3,406,076; in Larnaca, 11,100 were executed worth €1,908,384; in Paphos, another 10,444 warrants were executed for €1,658,828.

In Famagusta, another 3,918 warrants were executed with the identification of the debtors, and €811,879 was collected.