By Angelos Anastasiou
SEVERAL cases of additional payments in excess of the original contracts relating to the Nicosia and Larnaca sewerage boards are under the Audit Service’s microscope, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said on Friday.
Asked to comment on his office’s investigations into the Nicosia sewerage board, he said that a number of letters containing observations and remarks have been forwarded to the board, asking for comments.
On receipt of the board’s comments, the Audit Service will formulate its final opinion, which it will forward to the Attorney-general’s office.
“Initial evidence points to a problematic picture, and that is why we have asked for the board’s comments,” he said.
He added that several issues appear “somewhat vague” in terms of their handling by the sewerage board, and referred to “inadequately justified” disbursements.
“We have asked for clarifications on these matters,” Michaelides said, but declined to compare the cases with the notorious case of the Paphos sewerage board.
“I couldn’t say whether the problems in Nicosia might be similar to those in Paphos,” he said.
With regard to the Larnaca sewerage board, the Auditor-general said his department is investigating two contracts, which will need to be reviewed by the Attorney-general’s office.
“We thought our investigations include findings that merit a review by the Attorney-general, who is the competent authority to determine whether the investigation of any criminal offences is warranted,” he said.
Asked to specify the scope of the investigations in terms of time, Michaelides said that in Nicosia his office started with the most recent cases but will go back “as far as possible”.
He added that the case of Nicosia includes a contract for which the contractor’s demands have yet to be met, the two sides having resorted to arbitration.
Michaelides explained that his office forwarded its comments to the Nicosia sewerage board’s legal consultants, in hopes that their contribution to saving public funds before they are disbursed will be positive.