By George Psyllides
The presidential palace on Tuesday said it could find no trace of two notes submitted to parliament by Central Bank (CBC) governor Chrystalla Georghadji relating to changes she made to her contract.
Georghadji submitted two notes she attached to employment contracts informing of changes she had made before signing them and sending them to the Presidential Palace to the House Ethics Committee.
The changes – removal of a clause on conflict of interest, and addition of provisions that raised her remuneration – have become the focus of a parliamentary committee probe after President Nicos Anastasiades issued a scathing statement accusing her of lying to him.
The Presidential Palace reiterated on Tuesday that the notes were nowhere to be found.
Presidential aide Panayiotis Antoniou suggested the notes were not found in the files, possibly because they were not official documents.
The two April 8 “unofficial” notes were attached, one each, on two different versions of Georghadji’s employment contract. The first version did not include a conflict of interest clause incorporated in the previous governor’s contract; the second, in addition to the removal of the conflict clause, also included provisions that afforded Georghadji higher remuneration.
She removed a clause forbidding the governor’s first-degree relatives from being employed in any occupation related to the Central Bank, and replaced it with the wording of the relevant law on the governor’s obligations – i.e. forbidding the governor, but not the governor’s immediate family, from such practice.
Georghadji also added a provision to her contract – also in line with legislation – that allowed her the raises given to permanent staff, which translated to an annual €10,000 salary bump, which she waived.
“When the sender sends something they can never be sure that the president received it. What each note says is crystal clear,” she said.
She said proof of when the notes were written could be found on the computer of the current auditor-general’s secretary. Georghadji was auditor-general before she was appointed governor.
The governor said the issue of conflict of interest was not included in the CBC law, explaining to MPs that incompatibility of office and conflict of interest were two different terms.
“Conflict of interest can arise anytime,” she said.
It was suggested that the governor had removed the conflict clause because her daughter went to work for her father, Georghadji’s ex husband, who represented former Laiki strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos whom the CBC has taken to court.
Her daughter has since quit her dad’s law firm, insisting there was nothing wrong with her working there.
Attorney-general Costas Clerides said there were general rules regarding conflict of interest and it was not a matter of a provision in one contract.
Clerides mentioned judges as an example, who do not have contracts nor conflict provisions.
Committee chairman Phidias Sarikas said they planned to invite the former presidential aide Makarios Droushiotis, who is said to have handled the contract, to appear before them to explain who received the notes and whether Anastasiades had been informed.
Droushiotis currently works in Brussels.
By George Psyllides