Cyprus luxury car probe grows

NICOSIA (AFP) – Investigations widened yesterday into a multimillion-dollar luxury auto fraud involving public officials and top policemen who cheated customs of taxes on imported top-of-the-line Mercedes and BMWs. Cypriot Police Chief Inspector Yiannakis Panayiotou was detained last week on suspicion of importing cars without paying the full customs duties on them. He is being investigated on three nearly new cars that had the chassis numbers of older vehicles, enabling the owner to pay lower duties on them. Yesterday’s the Politis daily said customs and police have opened files on about 500 imported luxury cars. Outstanding taxes could run into millions of dollars. The island’s chief of police is also being investigated on whether a Range Rover and Mercedes CLK he bought had the full duty paid on them. Cyprus taxes imported luxury cars at 100-140 percent of the car’s original value. Vehicle parts are exempt from such taxes.