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Cyprus

Parties to be denied anonymous donations

By Evie Andreou

THE House Ways and Means Committee said on Friday it plans to push strict legislation regulating the parties’ sources of income, to boost transparency and clamp down on corruption.

According to the draft bill, anonymous donations to parties will be forbidden, while public donations should not exceed €50,000.

All organisations – youth, sports, cultural, etc. – affiliated to the parties will also be placed under scrutiny.

The parties will be allowed to issue raffles and organise fund-raising games like bingo, but a ceiling on profits will be set and proceeds will also be scrutinised.

The bill provides for monetary penalties in cases of violations, according to the degree of misconduct, as determined by the Parties Commissioner and the Auditor-general.

The Committee wants to have the bill sent to the plenum for a vote by July 9, which is the last scheduled session before the summer break.

The bill follows on the Focus saga, when the two biggest parties DISY and AKEL were implicated last April in allegations that they had received large sums of money from  Focus Maritime Corporation, a company owned by Michalis Zolotas, and allegedly to be an associate of Andreas Vgenopoulos, the man who bankrupted Laiki Bank.

DISY had admitted it had received an amount from a group of ship-owners based in London and the UK, reportedly €500,000, and used it to funds its 2008 election campaign, but claimed it did not know that the source was actually Focus.

The main opposition party, AKEL, denied it had received money from Focus, despite reports that the Attorney-general’s office has documentation on the money trail, reportedly €1.5m from the same source.



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