By Constantinos Psillides
THE INLAND Revenue Department (IRD) had knowledge of the illegal activities of corrupted state officials for the last 25 years but failed to act on it because a committee on capital statements was never set up, according to House Ethics Committee chairman Phidias Sarikas.
Following a committee discussion on the illicit enrichment of public sector employees, Sarikas told the press that legislation was never implemented due to lack of political will.
“Despite the fact that we had knowledge of many case of public sector employees or officials illegally profiting while in office, there was a reluctance by the state to enforce not one but many laws specifically forbidding such acts,” said Sarikas, adding that even when some these officials were caught, they were only forced to pay tax on the money they made illegally.
“The Inland Revenue Department is trying to deal with this problem but their probes actually finish once they have evidence of illicit enrichment. What they do next is to ask those officials to pay taxes on the extra money they made by abusing the power of their office. For us this of course is not enough. We believe that these people should be prosecuted and to that end the committee will work towards better coordinating the efforts of all competent departments.”
Sarikas also noted that 25 years ago the House decided that a committee was to be set up regarding the capital statements of public sector employees but it never materialised.
“We need to be decisive on the matter. We need to deal with this so some people can take the responsibility and demand that public sector employees and officials submit their capital statements,” he said
DISY MP Andreas Kyprianou, who tabled the issue for discussion along with fellow DISY MP Prodromos Prodromou, said that it is not a secret that in the past years public officials have used the power of their office to profit illegally.
“All citizens should be equal, whether they are public sector employees, private sector employees or own their business. The IRD should be able to demand capital statements for all, especially those public sector officials who have executive power. These statements will ensure that those who were granted authority by the state are very careful in their dealings from now on,” said Kyprianou.
Main opposition party AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou told the press that although in many of the cases under investigation by the IRD and the office of the Auditor-general a criminal case can’t be built, “that shouldn’t stop the competent authorities from investigating them.”
“Our aim is to put an end to corruption. The IRD has its own part to play in this endeavour. This is not a witch hunt,” Charalambidou assured.
The AKEL MP added that the legal services has knowledge of cases regarding illicit enrichment by public sector employees but pursued none of them, for the past 15 years.
“If we really want to put an end to corruption, we have to put in place all necessary mechanisms already outlined in the legislation,” she said.
DIKO MP Marios Gaoroyian expressed the opinion that corruption should be dealt with decisively, blaming the lack of coordination between departments as the reason no case was brought to justice.
“We in DIKO are of the opinion that there are laws and that these laws should be enforced,” said DIKO
EVROKO MP Demetris Syllouris proposed that any investigation done on illicit enrichment shouldn’t just focus on current cases but go back and examine previous ones. Green’s MP Giorgos Perdikis asked for a random probe on public sector officials within the week.