By Angelos Anastasiou
Eight months after Orestis Vasiliou, the former director of Cytavision – the cable TV arm of semi-state telecoms company CyTA – was incarcerated after being convicted to nine years for his role in the ‘Dromolaxia’ scandal, he continues to receive half his monthly salary and may yet continue to do so until the company’s board issues a final ruling on his appeal, the semi-state’s spokesman Lefteris Christou said on Tuesday.
Since Vasiliou was handed a nine-year sentence in January, the organisation’s legal advisors have been looking into whether regulations mandate that an individual convicted of a crime is immediately terminated or suspended until a final decision is made on the appeal.
“The rules applying to CyTA stipulate that being convicted of a crime in court does not necessarily trigger dismissal,” Christou told the Cyprus Mail.
“There is an internal procedure to be followed in such instances, and it was. But it offers the right to appeal, and this was exercised by Vasiliou.”
Last December, Vasiliou and four others were found guilty of taking bribes, extortion and legalising ill-gotten gains, in connection with a case of fraud involving a decision for CyTA’s employees’ pension fund to invest millions in a construction project in Dromolaxia, near Larnaca, and sentenced to nine years in prison.
Pending legal advice, CyTA’s management had decided to forego discontinuing Vasiliou’s salary payments for fear of infringing on his rights, which would leave the organisation open to a future lawsuit. Therefore, Vasiliou’s employment status remained “suspended” – and not “terminated” – until the lawyers interpreted the law.
Last month, a three-person disciplinary committee ruled that Vasiliou should be dismissed, but the former Cytavision boss appealed the ruling, which means CyTA’s full board must make the final decision. To this end, the board will convene on September 22.
“These rules are secondary law – they were voted by parliament – and they need to be followed,” Christou explained.
But there is also a question of why the issue had been addressed neither in the nine months since the case went to trial in March 2014, nor in the nine months since the verdict.
Since Vasiliou was originally remanded as part of initial police investigations into the case, he has been paid half his salary, as per standard suspension procedure relating to civil servants.
“The criminal trial is independent of the internal disciplinary procedure, which was started immediately after the court handed the sentence,” CyTA’s spokesman said.
“But the issues with Mr Riris disrupted it, and the acting CEO who replaced him had to start over – hence the delay.”
The appointment of former CyTA executive boss Aristos Riris was struck down by the Supreme Court in March 2015 over irregularities in inviting applications for the post.