Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Dromolaxia case highlights extent of SGO plunder

By Loucas Charalambous

THE FINDINGS of the investigation into the scandal of the investment by the CyTA pension fund in the Dromolaxia development project has provided additional proof of the incredible extent of corruption that featured in the public sector during the Christofias presidency.

It also re-confirmed that the quickest possible privatisation of the ‘small kingdoms’ also known as SGOs is, literally, a national imperative. Nobody can doubt any longer that the incredible plundering of CyTA could have taken place if the organisation had not been under state ownership.

None of those politicians and union leaders who are constantly bleating on about the ‘sell-off of pubic wealth’ can conceivably claim that the corruption and plunder at SGOs would have happened even if the state was not in control. But the state was in control and appointed the boards of directors and executives that run the SGOs.

Corruption and mismanagement in the public sector were certainly not phenomena that surfaced only during AKEL rule. But it is a fact that during the five-year term of Christofias, the situation was out of control. The people he and the AKEL leadership appointed to run these organisations, as we have seen, proved the worst possible. They messed up like no other before them.

This is in fact a very interesting aspect of the AKEL administration, the first in the party’s history. Christofias and his comrades managed to debunk the myth that the Left was not corrupt. In practice, it proved more corrupt than the others.

One of the most astonishing elements of the plundering was how an additional €4,225,000 was paid by CyTA to Wadnic, the company responsible for the Dromolaxia project, as the value of the part of the plot that had not been used for construction. The squandering of this big amount of money was proposed by Charalambos Tsouris, an AKEL placeman, whom the investigative committee concluded did not have the authority to make such a proposal. The proposal, according to the investigators, was based on false data.

Also astonishing was the fact that the rest of the members of the management committee (of the pension fund), with the exception of two, approved Tsouris’ proposal for the ‘immediate payment’ of the amount to Wadnic.

For this good work, Tsouris was subsequently appointed chairman of the board of the EAC by Christofias; in other words he was promoted. From this position, the AKEL man never missed an opportunity to lambast the troika and the current government for the plan to privatise EAC, which he described as the “sell-off of a profit-making organisation”. Interestingly, the auditors had refused to sign the EAC accounts, because they considered this “profit-making organisation” insolvent.

The findings of the investigative committee provide an explanation for Tsouris’ rabid reaction to the prospect of privatisation. Perhaps he was preparing a memo proposing an investment by the EAC pension fund in a project similar to that of Dromolaxia.

Apart from the role played by Tsouris in this sordid affair, the investigative committee also highlighted the big responsibility of the government and in particular that of super-minister Neoclis Sylikiotis for the ‘peculiar’ speeding up of all state procedures for the completion of the project. Regarding Sylikiotis’ role, the report said that ‘his interest raises pertinent questions’.

As was mentioned above, a scandal like that of Dromolaxia could not have taken place if CyTA, the EAC and other SGOs did not belong to the state and their managements were not appointed by the political parties. And this is the reason why our political party establishment, particularly AKEL and DIKO, are so strongly opposed to privatisations.

Without boards appointed by the political parties there would be no plundering and without this our parties would not be able to survive. And this is why the ‘pertinent questions’, mentioned by the investigative committee will remain unanswered.

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