By Angelos Anastasiou
A list of “high-risk” individuals within the public and broader public sector will be compiled by the Auditor General’s office and the Taxation Commissioner in the coming days and submitted to the House, the Watchdog committee decided on Tuesday.
The issue was tabled by DISY deputies Andreas Kyprianou and Prodromos Prodromou, and aims at more stringent control over civil servants whose position requires them to handle taxpayer money.
Watchdog committee chairman and EDEK deputy Fidias Sarikas said that the discussion revealed that inadequate control was being exercised by authorities, resulting not only in no prosecutions, but increased incidents of corruption.
According to Sarikas, impunity has destroyed Cyprus.
“We must finally demand cooperation by the authorities and following due process in order to identify those who have abused their positions as government officials,” he said.
The committee will reconvene once the Auditor General and the Taxation Commissioner have prepared and submitted the list of “high-risk” individuals.
Kyprianou welcomed the Auditor General and the Taxation Commissioner’s commitment to conduct an investigation.
“In a country that has been destroyed, in which the public perception is one of corruption, conducting an investigation is important,” he said.
AKEL deputy Irene Charalambidou charged that there are no adequate safeguards in the public sector and municipal authorities, and wondered why not a single case of bribing a public official has yet to be brought to court.
She noted that combating corruption must become a priority for everyone, and that individuals who have served or serve in critical posts, such as the Land Registry, must be investigated.
“It is also important that, prior to appointments as well as during one’s employment in the public sector, his or her source of wealth is ascertained,” she said.
DIKO deputy Marios Garoyian said the operation must be targeted in order to avoid victimising the civil service and the fostering of a culture of gossip.
“The committee will be handed a list of individuals that could potentially be involved in cases of unjust enrichment, and subsequently there must be amendments to current legislation, or perhaps constitutional amendments, so that the new law has teeth,” he said.
EVROKO leader Demetris Syllouris said that investigation into cases of potentially unjust enrichment must be carried out for individuals involved in handling government money.
“Reform and rebuilding institutions are required,” he said. “Investigations should extend back in time.”
Syllouris said the ‘Lagarde list’ – a list of individuals with deposits abroad – must be obtained, and accounts held in and outside Cyprus by anyone belonging to groups that could be considered suspicious must be investigated.
By Angelos Anastasiou