Limassol district court on Monday remanded in custody for another four days three suspects as police investigate an alleged scam to defraud social security funds earmarked for the homeless.
The three, whose four-day remand order expired last Friday, are now facing additional charges – including suspected human trafficking.
They are the 46 year old president of an (non-registered) association which campaigns for the homeless, the 57 year old owner of the hotel and a 66 year old receptionist at the hotel.
The ‘association’ president was taken to hospital on Friday with chest pains and was kept there but court proceedings continued today in his absence.
Police say the three had set up a scheme at a hotel in the coastal town to claim thousands of funds to house homeless individuals for longer than they had actually stayed.
All deny any involvement in the suspected conspiracy to commit an offence, obtaining funds under false pretences and fraud. These were committed between August 2018 and October 2019.
Police told the court they believe over €200,000 may have been transferred this way. And that they have obtained a court order for bank confidentiality to be lifted and for disclosure of the accounts of the three suspects.
Because this is how authorities will be able to trace the money paid to the three suspects by the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Insurance.
Police had told the court that there were at least nine cases of homeless individuals who had left the hotel but the state continued to pay for their room and board.
In one instance the welfare services were looking for a specific individual for three months who was shown to be staying at the hotel but when informed by the welfare services said he had not stayed for that long.
The case was reported to the police on August 28 after welfare service officers who asked to see the homeless individuals in their rooms were forbidden from doing so by the hotel management, the court was told.
But defence lawyers said there was no evidence of offences having been committed.