Cyprus Mail

Hasikos slams auditor-general’s ‘superstar’ status (Update: adds Neophytou ‘pope’ comment)

Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos on Sunday in Larnaca

Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said on Sunday he would be consulting with the attorney-general on Monday on the way in which Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides exercises his duties.

Commenting on the sidelines of an inauguration event on Larnaca’s Pilae Pasha, when asked about the ongoing public animosity between them, which was exacerbated during the week with the release of Michaelides’ annual report, Hasikos said it was not personal and that Michaelides had a right to defend the contents of his report.

“However, in other countries no one knows who their auditor-general is, but in Cyprus he’s a star… a superstar, wherever there are newspapers, televisions or radios,” said Hasikos. “This is the way he chooses to operate.”

He added that he would wait for the AG, Costas Clerides to decide who was right or wrong. “I do not want to appear as confrontational or be in constant confrontation with the auditor-general. This does not help any of us but we each should be limited to the exercise of his duties. As a member of the executive I stay within my boundaries and he, as the auditor-general should do the same.”

Hasikos said there were laws, and the Constitution, within which “each of us works”, and everyone should stay within those parameters.

Asked what data he was giving to the AG, Hasikos said he would first wait to see Clerides.

“Essentially the information I am providing is indicative of what I have said earlier, namely whether each side is limited to what the Constitution requires of us, or whether anyone is operating excessively, or whether we are interconnected with suspected or other interests or not. These are things only the attorney-general can rule on,” the minister said.

Hasikos on Wednesday accused the auditor-general of not doing his job properly, overstepping legal boundaries and publicising issues without substantiation.

The minister even suggested changing the constitution to limit the term of independent officials.

The auditor issued a lengthy statement later on Wednesday, responding to the minister point by point. Odysseas Michaelides also described the suggestion to cut officials’ terms as unjustified intervention.

The accusations were part of a sustained assault launched by Hasikos against Michaelides following publication of the latter’s annual report, which included a series of alleged transgressions by the interior ministry.

Hasikos accused Michaelides of publicising his reports without substantiating what he had investigated and of insinuating that the minister had vested interests.

In his lengthy response, Michaelides said criticism was “fully legit and acceptable” but when it included concealed threats to supposedly change the constitution to cut the auditor’s term short, then they “blatantly constitute unjustified intervention”.

Hasikos was irked in particular by references in the auditor-general’s 2014 report released on Monday regarding the sale of Turkish Cypriot properties and the Kofinou slaughterhouse.

There is also bad blood between the two officials over the bill paid by taxpayers to the administrator of a waste disposal plant in Koshi and the case of Bangladeshi students who appear to have been allowed to enter Cyprus using forged documents.

Weighing in later on Sunday, ruling DISY leader Averof Neophytou said independent officials such as the auditor-general do not have the infallibility of the Pope.

Speaking during an event at Acropolis park in Nicosia, Neophytou said the party’s position is to respect the independent institutions of the state.

“On the other hand we do not believe that any position of an independent official is gospel or that from the time someone is appointed as an independent official, they automatically have the infallibility of the Pope,” he said.

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