Cyprus Mail

DISY may revisit graft bill

Mayor of Paphos Savvas Vergas

By Constantinos Psillides

RULING DISY may revisit a bill it proposed last year enabling the state to seize the property of anyone found guilty of graft, in light of recent events that have unfolded in Paphos.

The town’s mayor Savvas Vergas, along with two others, are currently in custody in suspicion of corruption. The trio are suspected of receiving bribes to allow for a sewage construction project to go almost €40 million over budget.

“I would say that it’s time to revisit this proposal. The reasons that led the party to suggest it in the first place are more relevant than ever today,” said party spokesperson Prodromos Prodromou, adding that DISY officials would probably have a discussion on the issue over the weekend. The proposal would amend the law, authorising the state to confiscate the property of anyone found guilty of corruption, bribery or embezzlement.

DISY tabled the proposal at the House in October 2013 but the bill didn’t make it out of committee, since a review by the legal services showed that similar legislation was already in effect.

“We looked into it and a month later we concluded that the legislation might already be in place but it wasn’t comprehensive. Our goal was to punish all those who took money from the state by allowing for the seizure of their assets and that just wasn’t possible through the existing legislation,” said Prodromou.

DISY deems the bill a necessity after accusations against bosses at Bank of Cyprus and the now-defunct Laiki arose saying that they amassed personal wealth while purposefully leaving the economy to crash.

DISY leader Averof Neophytou has said the punishment for those who took money that did not belong to them, could not be limited to imprisonment. “It is not fair for someone who steals millions to do a few years in jail and enjoy the loot after they are released.”

Prodromou said DISY tabled to the House Ethics Committee the matter of high-ranking state officials who became rich from shady dealings made possible by abusing authority. “We wanted to further look into the matter. How come a state official with a €3,000 salary ended up owning yachts and amassed properties? We wanted to prevent that from happening and also go after these people,” he said, adding that the House discussion was is still ongoing.

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