By Angelos Anastasiou
The House Ethics Committee on Friday concluded discussion on the facts of Central Bank governor Chrystalla Georghadji’s contract, which had caused months-long political turmoil culminating in President Nicos Anastasiades asking Attorney-general Costas Clerides to seek her termination in court.
Prior to her appointment at the Central Bank’s helm last year, Georghadji altered the terms of her contract of employment before signing it and forwarding it to the Presidential Palace for Anastasiades’ signature, attaching a note that explained the amendments.
She had altered her remuneration terms to match those of permanent Central Bank staff, and scrapped a clause banning her first-degree relatives from being employed in any field connected with Central Bank operations.
Presidential Palace aide Makarios Droushotis, who had received the contract signed by Georghadji, said he didn’t recall any notes, and none were found in the Palace’s archives.
The altered contract came under scrutiny when it was revealed that Georghadji’s daughter Marianna worked at Andreas Georghadjis’ law firm – founded and run by Marianna’s father and Georghadji’s estranged husband – which represents former Laiki Bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos in his dispute with the Central Bank over Laiki’s winding down in March 2013.
Georghadji has since signed a new contract, but amidst calls for her dismissal, Anastasiades asked the Attorney-general to initiate the procedure for removing her from her post.
But the legal developments notwithstanding, the issue was taken to the House Ethics committee for discussion of the political aspects.
On Friday, committee chairman Nicos Nicolaides said the committee agreed on the facts of the case unanimously, and will now focus on agreeing conclusions.
“The committee’s conclusions and suggestions will be discussed on Tuesday in what I hope will be a final session, so that when it is concluded we will have a final version of the committee’s report, which will express either the entirety or the majority of the committee,” he said.
While parties were unanimous in demanding Georghadji’s resignation in the midst of the row, there was disagreement in Anastasiades’ responsibility on the matter, with opposition parties claiming that signing an altered contract without even noticing suggested gross incompetence that could not go unnoticed. This will likely be the only sticking point in the drafting of conclusions and suggestions.
AKEL MP Irene Charalambidou said that the facts of the case alone show the poor handling of the matter by Anastasiades’ associates, since “a contract is signed by at least two people”.
“Before signing, the President had an obligation to know the contract’s contents so that he knew what terms he was committing the state to,” she argued.
She added that a phrase spoken by Georghadji at parliament, concerning “terrifying interests and interventions” in her work, remain unexplained.
EVROKO MP Demetris Syllouris said that, although the interim report was ready months ago, other issues and legal procedures pushed back its discussion.
“Ethics committee sessions on this matter are now conducted in closed session, and no one can argue that they might interfere with court proceedings, unless our inability to bring some to justice wants to hide behind the Ethics committee’s work,” Syllouris noted.