Auditing the Central Co-operative Bank (CCB) was exceptionally difficult because the audit service’s access was restricted and there was a possibility that its findings would be flawed, auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said on Tuesday.
“Our audit of the CCB was conducted with exceptional difficulty since, instead of having unlimited access to the minutes of various committees and the files regarding various tenders, the CCB insisted in an ‘ask and receive’ procedure,” a written statement said.
During the audit, the service asked for data regarding a particular matter and the CCB decided which information was relevant before handing it over.
The auditor said the process did not meet the principles of unrestricted access to information that should be afforded to the service.
This would affect the criterion of completeness of the information, the auditor said.
“Consequently, as the audit service, we maintain our reservations as to the completeness of the information given to us by the CCB,” he added.
In one case, the auditors accidentally found out that the minutes from one committee were not complete, raising the possibility of more such cases, the statement said.
“This could have affected our findings,” the auditor said.
In September, Michaelides accused the finance ministry of obstructing his work after the permanent secretary issued a circular asking staff to monitor audit service officials carrying out checks at the ministry.
The matter emerged when auditors tried to access files relating to the CCB and the government’s intention to offer free shares to its customers.
Michaelides, who repeatedly clashed with the finance minister in the past over the co-op, said the government’s decision to donate CCB stock was unconstitutional and illegal.
The audit-service’s findings will be published on June 1, 2018.