The Audit Office on Tuesday revealed that the former president that owes the state €48,000 is George Vassiliou and not Demetris Christofias.
Vassiliou however, said that he was not aware of such a debt to the state.
Following much speculation after the release last week of the Audit Office’s 2016 report on the foreign ministry that said a former president received €48,087 outside his term of office in advance for a trip to London in 2000 without ever returning it, the service announced on Tuesday that it was Vassiliou.
The Audit Office decided to set the record straight after daily Alithia reported last week that the president in question was Christofias, who angrily announced he would take legal action against the newspaper.
“While it is unambiguously deduced from the above report that the former President of the Republic, who is registered in the accounts of the ministry of foreign affairs as a debtor for €48,087, is Mr George Vassiliou, some reports unjustly targeted former President Mr Demetris Christofias,” the announcement said.
It added that the amount in question concerns the accommodation of Vassiliou, his wife, their two daughters with their husbands and two other persons at Langham Hilton Hotel, Bloomsbury Park Hotel and Le Meridien Grosvenor House in London, for some days in May and June of 2000. The amount also includes mini bar and telephone call charges, meals, dry cleaning services and tips.
“We expect the foreign affairs ministry to demand the immediate payment of any amounts due,” the Audit Office said.
Dismissing claims that the inclusion of this case in the 2016 report was aimed at “harming any person”, the service said that the “exact same (verbatim) reference was consistently included in the Annual Reports of the Audit Office from 2011 onwards”.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, Vassiliou said that he was surprised to hear that he owed the amount to the state, as he was never informed of this by anyone.
The only thing he could think of, he said, is that it might have to do with his rushed trip to the UK – as the dates coincide – when he had to have an emergency operation.
“I was at death’s door, I had a huge tumour in my head, I was sent there for an operation. Luckily, it was a successful one. All expenses were paid by the state,” Vassiliou said.
He added that the state at the time had paid for the hospital and hotel expenses.
“They should have told me if they had any objection to pay for the hotel,” Vassiliou said.
He added that he is saddened by what he feels might be a deliberate act to tarnish him and wonders why the announcement was made now.