Turkish Cypriot arrested over Greek Cypriot properties scam

3 mins read

Cypriot authorities have requested the extradition of a Turkish Cypriot lawyer charged with embezzlement of Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied north, marking the first time a Turkish Cypriot has been arrested abroad for such a case.

Lawyer Akan Kursat faces charges punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years.

According to the case file opened by the police in 2005, the Turkish Cypriot lawyer is accused of conspiracy to commit a crime, illegal possession or use of land belonging to another person, obtaining goods through false representations, among other charges.

The allegations suggest that the case is related to the misappropriation of properties in the northern part of Cyprus, particularly in the area of Kyrenia.

Kursat is known for representing British drug baron Gary Robb, who was behind a multi-million development that swindled buyers from Britain.

Police have confirmed Kursat’s arrest in Rome for the illegal sale of Greek Cypriot properties in the northern part of Cyprus in cases that date back to 2004.

Talking to state radio CyBC, police spokesman Christos Andreou verified the incident, stating that the arrest was made based on a European court warrant issued by Republic of Cyprus authorities.

Andreou told CyBC that, “so far, it has not been determined whether Kursat traveled from Larnaca airport to Rome, while efforts are underway to locate the documents used for boarding the flight”.

The arrest notice was received by Cypriot authorities from their Italian counterparts, with Nicosia requesting his extradition.

Also talking to CyBC, Justice Minister Anna Procopiou said that the extradition process was underway to bring him back to Cyprus to face justice.

“Someone that is usurping our properties will be brought to justice, this is what is important,” she said.

The extradition process is expected to take some ten days, with Kursat appearing before an Italian court on Wednesday.

New year holiday

Turkish Cypriot media reports suggest that Kursat was on a trip to Italy to celebrate the new year with his wife Fazilet Ozdenefe, deputy speaker of the Turkish Cypriot assembly and an MP for the left-wing Turkish Republic Party (CTP).

Kursat was arrested on New Year’s Eve at their hotel in Rome.

His arrest is related to a 2007 arrest warrant issued by the Republic of Cyprus against him for exploiting Greek Cypriot properties, in a case involving the law firm he is running with his father Talat Kursat.

European arrest warrants were previously issued against Kursat and his father, Talat Kursat, for their involvement in the sale of Greek Cypriot properties during 2004-2005.

The Kursats, who operate a law firm in Kyrenia, are known to have represented a company involved in the tourist development of Greek Cypriot properties, belonging to British con man Gary Robb, who had defrauded dozens of Britons living in the north out of over a million pounds sterling.

The company allegedly attempted to illegally sell property belonging to Greek Cypriots to foreigners, resulting in legal action by investors who claimed extortion through misrepresentation.

Gary Robb, a convicted British drug dealer, had started building luxury villas on Greek Cypriot land in Kyrenia in 2004-2005, but was forced to abandon his projects after he faced legal troubles and imprisonment in the UK for drugs circulation.

He was building some 335 luxury villas on Greek Cypriot-owned land.

Britons lost EUR 40 mln

British police estimated at the time that approximately 400 Britons incurred losses exceeding EUR 40 mln in deals with AGA Development.

It is alleged that Gary Robb received weekly sums ranging between £5,000 and £10,000 from the drug trade in England, and he reportedly directed this money to the northern part of Cyprus.

Robb was sentenced to five years by a UK court, with Cyprus requesting his extradition in 2011, following the issuance of a European arrest warrant.

A court in the government-controlled areas sentenced Robb to 11 months imprisonment, but after that he was extradited back to the UK.

Earlier, Britons William George and Eleanor Barker Rene Alcock, who purchased a villa in Klepini in 2005 from Robb’s Kyrenia-based company AGA Developments Ltd, lodged a complaint against Talat Kursat in Turkish Cypriot courts, leading to a decision on December 24, 2018.

The plaintiffs contended that the funds they had sent to Talat Kursat, the lawyer representing the company and Robb, for their mansion’s purchase, were never transferred to them.

Instead, Kursat allegedly retained the money in his personal account. Despite the plaintiffs’ persistent appeals, the sum of £64,755 was never recovered.

The court had decided that Talat Kursat misappropriated the money or transferred it to his own bank account.