TRADE unions affiliated to the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CyTA) have urged the government to explicitly ask the entity’s board to step down.
In a joint statement yesterday, a number of unions representing CyTA employees said that since the board has failed to tender their resignations on their own, as they should have, it’s time the government takes bold action.
“We are appealing to the Cabinet, which meets tomorrow [today], to call on the entire board of CyTA to resign,” the statement read.
“In this way the Cabinet will remain consistent with its declarations on transparency and cracking down on corruption,” it added.
The unions are calling for the removal of the CyTA board on ethical grounds, because some of the board’s members have been embroiled in corruption and financial mismanagement allegations relating to a real estate investment.
That investment is the subject of an ongoing probe. It involves the purchase by CyTA’s pension fund of office space near Larnaca airport at reportedly a price several times the going market value.
Allegations have surfaced that millions of euros were given to grease the deal, with kickbacks going to CyTA officers, an MP, a political party and trade unionists.
Some union officials have told an investigative panel that they had been opposed to the investment but that the CyTA leadership ignored them and went ahead with it anyway.
In their joint statement, the objecting unions noted: “It is inconceivable and unparalleled that public figures who have been implicated or named in the ongoing case should retain their positions.”
This was not a judgment on anyone’s culpability, which is the purview of the courts, they added.
However, “In all democratic countries, whenever public figures are under investigation, the least they do is remove themselves from their positions, since their continued presence alone carries the risk of hindering the investigation or evidence tampering.”
The statement went on to congratulate the interior minister for recently calling on CyTA chairman Stathis Kittis to quit.
Responding to the minister, Kittis then said that he served at the pleasure of the government of the day – essentially daring the state ( which appoints the boards of semi-state enterprises) to sack him.
Kittis, who also heads the pension fund management committee, insists the land deal in question was above board.