Cyprus Mail
CM Regular Columnist

Interesting rationalisations from a tax cheat

Former central bank governor Christodoulos Christodoulou

By Loucas Charalambous

I APOLOGISE to Christodoulos Christodoulou for making him the subject of this comment. I have no personal differences with the man, but his case is of very wide interest.

Christodoulou is the quintessential example of the political/business establishment – the ruling elite – that has been running this small country for more than 50 years and led it, slowly but steadily, to complete catastrophe, the dimensions and consequences of which have yet to be grasped by the public.

His foolish statement outside the Nicosia court on September 26 gave a very clear picture of what the average representative of this establishment is like. He said:

“I am at ease with my conscience in the current case because, as always in my private and public life, I performed my duty towards my country as an honourable citizen with integrity. I was honest and I have given this country more than I have taken. I did not steal, I was not bribed and this was no case of corruption of a public official.”

Just a few minutes earlier he had admitted to six charges of submitting fraudulent tax declarations and fraudulent accounts with the aim of cheating the Inland Revenue Department. I therefore fail to find the slightest hint of logic in what he said. One thing I do know is that personal honesty is not an attribute to be publicised. Where it exists, it is there for all to see.

But parts of his statement were even more bizarre. “The company was accused of not paying its taxes on time. The company, on its own initiative, and before the prosecution process had been put in motion, had settled these tax obligations relating to the period 2007 to 2009.”

This is why I said that the Christodoulou case is of wider interest. He thinks he is addressing fools, just as our political establishment has thought for more than 50 years. But everyone knows the taxes were paid after Politis wrote about the scandal and the public uproar that followed.

Even more interesting was his view that for the tax offences he admitted committing, he expected that the “attorney-general will prosecute half of Cyprus”. In other words, he only did what half the country has been doing.

This is a rather peculiar excuse. Christodoulou, a former permanent secretary, a former minister of finance (and of interior), a former governor of the Central Bank, justified committing tax evasion because half of Cyprus does.

I will agree that a large number of citizens try to cheat the Inland Revenue department. I do not know how many, but I will accept it is half the population. But I still have a question I would like him to answer. Why did he choose to do what the cheating half of Cyprus does?

If, as he assured us, he is honest, why not choose to do what the honest 50 per cent do? Why did he choose to behave like the dishonest half of Cyprus instead of the honest half? And how could he be at ease with his conscience because “as always, in the current case I performed my duty towards my country as an honourable citizen with integrity”?

Are the honourable citizens of integrity the ones who cheat the tax authorities or the ones who do not? Christodoulou owes us a few answers. If things are as he claims and half the adult population of Cyprus, made up of the fraudsters, are at ease with their consciences and believe that through tax evasion they are performing their patriotic duty, we should all join them.

We also want to feel once we become swindlers at ease with our conscience, just like the members of our political establishment who, with their political and financial crimes, destroyed the country.

And something about Christodoulou’s contribution to the country (as he told us, he gave more than he took) if only he and all other self-proclaimed saviours of the establishment had not ‘contributed’ so much, Cyprus would not be in the mess it is in today.

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