By George Psyllides
PRESIDENT Nicos Anastasiades said yesterday he would resign if a probe found that he was in any way involved in the procedure to sell national carrier Cyprus Airways.
In a written statement, Anastasiades asked the attorney-general, the auditor-general, and the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, to investigate the claims that he was either directly or indirectly involved, through his law office, which had represented one of the suitors, Ryanair, for a short period.
The firm admitted to representing the airline initially but said that it terminated their co-operation later on.
“I do not reprove, nor do I consider the criticism unfair,” the president said.
He added that after his election and departure from the firm he had agreed with his former partners that they would not represent anyone whose interests were linked with government decisions.
The president went on to say that after he found out that the firm represented Ryanair in the early stages of the procedure to sell Cyprus Airways, he asked them to terminate the agreement.
“My reaction was stern and the result was the termination of any relation between the law firm and the company in question,” he said.
Pilots meanwhile accused the government of corruption, saying that they notified the European Commission about the state of affairs.
Finance Minister Harris Georgiades described the pilots as irresponsible and challenged them to go ahead with their complaint.
Georgiades also renewed his call to the handsomely paid pilots to invest their provident fund money and gain control of the airline and manage it as they saw fit.
“I urge them to proceed with a complaint to the police or the attorney-general or the auditor-general,” Georgiades said, adding that the government was ready to hand them the company if they wanted.
“Let them invest even a fraction of what they have in their fund to gain control of the company and manage it as they see fit without the tens of millions in state aid to maintain their very high salaries,” Georgiades said.
One of the pilots’ main gripes is that the government is negotiating with Ryanair, which offered peanuts, and has disqualified a potential investor that offered €65 million.
As explained by Treasurer Rea Georgiou, Vostok Capital Management was disqualified because it had not submitted proof of funds, it made references to unsubstantiated amounts, and “failed to attach detailed information on the funding of their indicative offers both in terms of the consideration of their indicative offer but also any investments and working capital requirements for implementing their plans.”
Georgiou also said that the company’s non-binding offer lacked detail and clarity, “their technical know-how on running an airline company is questionable, and their strategy was poorly described, documented and articulated, failing to demonstrate the qualities explicitly requested in the process letter.”