Kickback allegations in IPC compensation

A GREEK Cypriot refugee awarded compensation by the north’s Immovable Property Commission (IPC) was manipulated into paying back 25 per cent of the amount as a sweetener.
According to Politis, the man reached a settlement with the IPC, under which he was awarded 600,000 pounds sterling. Although the award decision was issued several months ago, it was only a few days ago that the case was closed and the compensation given to the Greek Cypriot applicant.
Initially the man had an arrangement with his Turkish Cypriot lawyer for a fee of five per cent on the value of the compensation.
As time went on and the Greek Cypriot never saw the money, his lawyer advised that the process could be speeded up if the applicant agreed to pay the Turkish ‘embassy’ in the north a hefty commission in order to ‘oil the wheels’.
The man agreed and the lawyer set up the meeting with someone from the Turkish ‘embassy’. According to Politis, it was agreed that the applicant pay the ‘embassy’ 20 per cent of the compensation amount.
The Greek Cypriot wanted a record of the transaction, and at the meeting asked the ‘embassy’ representative for an invoice for the ‘commission fee’. His request was denied.
The man then asked for a day to reconsider, during which time he contacted another Turkish Cypriot lawyer, who nevertheless proposed a similar deal to the first. Pressed for time and money, the applicant threw caution to the wind and agreed to the ‘embassy’s’ terms.
A few days later, said the same report, the Greek Cypriot was notified that his compensation money was ready to collect. The man ended up paying some 150,000 pounds sterling to the various go-betweens: the lawyer and the Turkish ‘embassy’.
Citing its sources, Politis said the Turkish Cypriot lawyer had come up with alternatives for his Greek Cypriot client. One proposal, reportedly, involved the lawyer charging his client a smaller fee, in return for which the Greek Cypriot would undertake to find him two new customers wishing to apply to the IPC.
According to statistics published on the IPC website, so far there have been 175 applications for compensation filed by Greek Cypriot refugees.
Compensation monies are funded by the Turkish government. The IPC was set up in March 2005, after the European Court of Human Rights handed Turkey the task with finding a way of offering redress to Greek Cypriot Myra Xenides-Arestis, who lost her property in Varosha during the 1974 Turkish invasion.
Turkey accepted the challenge and has in turn given the Turkish Cypriot authorities – as its ‘subordinate local authority’ – the task of delivering justice on Greek Cypriot property claims.
In a different case, also reported by Politis, an elderly Greek Cypriot woman applying to the IPC decided to settle for 100,000 pounds sterling, even though the value of her property in the occupied areas was several times greater. She was advised that if she agreed to the above offer, she would not have to wait and would receive the money immediately. The woman, who needed money for surgery, went for the deal. The paper said that delay tactics and the carrot-and-stick approach are used as standard procedure to compel applicants to settle for far less.
Commenting on the Politis story yesterday, AKEL deputy Stavros Evagorou said reports of such abuse were to be expected, given applicants to the IPC had no protection.
“We at AKEL are not in favour of Greek Cypriots taking recourse to commissions controlled by Turkey or the breakaway regime,” he said.
Reports such as these were typical of the commission’s blackmail strategy, he added.