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Cyprus

Pace to be picked up on conflicts of interest

Questions of a conflict of interest were raised for Central Bank Chief Chrsytalla Georghadji

The House ethics committee plans to pick up the pace discussing a series of bills relating to incompatibility of office for government and state officials, with the intent of passing them before parliament disbands for the 2016 legislative elections.

The committee has before it five bills in total pertaining to incompatibility between holding public office and private ventures.

But MPs also plan to draft their own legislative proposal regulating the issue of conflict of interest in a broader sense.

One amendment will oblige state or government officials to submit a statement in advance, and upon their appointment, of their business ventures, said committee chairman Nicos Nicolaides.

Lawmakers will be using as a guideline a report prepared by University of Cyprus legal experts addressing conflict of interest in general.

The conflict of interest issue regained traction earlier this year in the wake of allegations that MPs were stymieing laws relating to property foreclosures because many of them are indebted to banks.

Regardless of the allegations, it did not help the deputies’ image that they had failed to disclose their financial statements, despite a parliamentary regulation requiring them to do so.

The issue of incompatibility between holding public office and private ventures resurfaced after it was revealed that Central Bank governor Chrystalla Georghadji’s daughter was employed by a law firm owned by Georghadji’s estranged husband, which represented former Laiki Bank strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos, with whom the Central Bank is in legal disputes over his role in the lender’s failure.

It was then argued that Georghadji’s position at the CBC helm was incompatible with a first-degree relative representing a legal adversary.

President Nicos Anastasiades subsequently found himself on the spot, after the law firm he founded, owned and ran until he assumed the duties of President was found to have been engaged as legal consultants by one of the suitors for Cyprus Airways, then in search of a strategic investor to take it over.

Over the years legislators have passed over 30 laws concerning incompatibility and conflicts of interest, featuring several contradictory clauses.

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