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Cyprus

‘Final stage’ reached on secret service legislation

Before parliament dissolves for the May legislative elections, the House ethics committee plans to bring to the plenum for a vote a bill designed to overhaul the Cyprus Intelligence Service (KYP), MPs said on Tuesday.

Committee chairman, EDEK MP Nicos Nicolaides said lawmakers have reached the ‘final stage’ on KYP legislation, which has been languishing in committee for more than a year.

Next week, Nicolaides said, he would personally submit a compromise proposal to overcome the key remaining hurdle to consensus.

The point relates to the declassification of KYP archives. As the government bill stands, and depending on their type and classification, KYP archives would be declassified in 30 to 50 years.

MP say this is excessive, proposing instead a far shorter period for declassification.
The new legislation will allow for civilian personnel to be employed in the service and purports to provide for greater oversight.

KYP is to become a fully independent service, not a public service, answering directly to the president.

The other major task ahead for the ethics committee is completing legislation governing conflict of interest and incompatibility of office for public officials.

It appears that due to the complexity of the issue, and the submission of several legislative proposals, parliament will need to prepare an omnibus bill.

It therefore looks unlikely that such a bill can make it to the plenum before parliament dissolves in May.

The item lists the public officials who cannot hold any professional or business relationship with the state.

The question now is how many officials will be put on the list, and the number of exceptions to the rule of no conflict of interest.

The Greens have proposed no exceptions under any circumstances.

Looking forward to May, the ethics committee plans by that time to carry out an assessment of developments relating to criminal investigations into finance-related matters and the 2013 financial meltdown.

The committee has completed a report on the banking system prior to the crash, and will be asking the Attorney-general for a recap on the course of criminal investigations.

Nicolaides said their report covered such matters as the emergency liquidity channelled into now-defunct Laiki Bank; Pimco’s apparently overblown estimates of Cypriot lenders’ capital needs; the reports prepared by Alvarez & Marsal, a firm contracted by the Central Bank of Cyprus for consultancy services; the expansion of Cypriot banks’ overseas operations; the divestment of Cypriot bank branches in Greece; the outflow of deposits; the sale of Laiki shares; HSBC; and the issue of Uniastrum Bank.

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