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President off the hook in Ryanair probe

By Constantinos Psillides

An investigation by the auditor general’s office found no indication that President Nicos Anastasiades had anything to do with Ryanair’s bid to buy off the now defunct Cyprus Airways (CY), according to statement issued on Monday.

The probe was in response to a public outcry after daily Phileleftheros run a story in November saying that according to a report drafted by CY’s financial advisers KPMG, the law firm founded by Anastasiades had represented the low-cost airline back when it had submitted a bid to buy the former national carrier.

Prior to its shutdown, CY had tried to secure a strategic investor. Ryanair and Aegean Air were the favourites, before the airline ceased operations early in January.

Both Anastasiades as well as his law firm – where his daughters are employed – said they initially acted as legal advisors for Ryanair in relation to Cyprus Airways but subsequently terminated their relationship with the Irish airline.

The law firm had released then a communiqué to the low-cost airline, dated September 30, through which it had informed Ryanair in writing that they were no longer interested in acting as their legal advisors in the process.

The president had also admitted that he had a short meeting with Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary and a representative from his law firm on October 8.

The probe concluded that the meeting was not relevant to the scope of the investigation.

“Even if the issue of Cyprus Airways came up, which it probably did, what we are here to determine is whether the president or his law firm had directly or indirectly anything to do with the decision made from that moment on,” read the statement, adding that the president didn’t gave any indication during the meeting that he would intercede in any way to favour Ryanair.

But while the probe clears Anastasiades of any suspicion, it does note that the law firm’s actions raised ethical questions.

“The law firm made a mistake when it decided to represent Ryanair and made an even worst mistake when it sent two of its lawyers to work with the Soteris Pittas law firm, especially since these two lawyers tried to hide the true identity of their employer,” read the statement.

Soteris Pittas LLC was the law firm that assumed the airline’s legal representation.

The auditor general states that despite the law firm’s mistakes, no evidence was found indicating that the firm tried to influence the procedure in any way.

 

 

 

 

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