Interior Minister steps in over Turkish Cypriot property abuse

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Following accusations of corruption involving public figures in allocating Turkish Cypriot properties to non-eligible applicants, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou has instructed authorities to conduct a survey of those granted them.

The minister also instructed an Internal Audit Unit to examine the lease contracts of Turkish Cypriot Properties granted for commercial purposes.

It will involve on-site visits to commercial properties in all districts starting next week to check mismanagement cases and record any subletting irregularities or other indiscretions.

Land given out to Greek Cypriot farmers will also be inspected.

The move comes after Paphos mayor Phedon Phedonos accused political parties of playing a lead role in the mismanagement of Turkish Cypriot properties throughout the years following the Turkish invasion of 1974.

Turkish Cypriot properties remaining in the hands of the government following the invasion were supposed to go to Greek Cypriot refugees who lost their homes and income during the war.

Phedonos told the House Audit Committee that an incumbent MP and a former politician had manipulated legislation “to perpetuate the unjust sharing’’.

He also said that the lack of proper criteria in existing legislation has led to controversial decisions regarding these properties.

Phedonos said a former MP had pulled strings to help relatives obtain a highly privileged Turkish Cypriot commercial property.

He further said that a Turkish Cypriot Property Management Service director who was on a party’s payroll had been dishing out properties at will.

The Paphos Mayor said that 70% of the shops in the centre of Paphos are Turkish Cypriot properties.

He also alleged that some of them were owned by non-refugees, given either before 1974 or until the 1980s, with fake pre-dated contracts and called for an investigation to return them.