IT WAS quite astonishing that AKEL claimed the findings of the investigation into the funds paid out by Focus Maritime Corporation had vindicated the party. Its mouthpiece, Haravghi, adopted a triumphant note in reporting the news, claiming that “two years of investigations by the authorities failed to hurt AKEL.” Stephanos Stephanou, who had served as the Christofias government spokesman, turned on all those who had thrown dirt at AKEL, insisting that the party had received nothing from the company linked to former Laiki strongman Andreas Vgenopoulos and had been the target of mud-slingers.
The party must have a very low regard for people’s intelligence, to claim that it was completely clean. In support of this, it cited the Attorney-general’s remark that there had been no transfer of money directly to an AKEL account or through a third company. All this meant, however, was that the communists did a good job of covering their tracks. There is little doubt that the total of €880,000 paid by Focus to an unknown account in three different instalments, before the 2008 presidential elections, as “transfer for air ticket expenses” directly benefited the party. And there was a link to the party’s student wing Proodeftiki.
At least, DISY had the honesty to admit from the start that it had received some €600,000 that was spent on air tickets for students coming to Cyprus to vote in the presidential elections. AKEL had denied all along that it had received any money although there was proof that the money had been spent on air tickets for Cypriot students, which it claimed had nothing to do with the party. Focus, we are to believe, had paid €880,000 on air tickets for students to return to Cyprus and vote in the presidential elections, on a whim and the involvement of Proodeftiki was coincidental. There were three candidates in the 2008 elections and in the run-off only the two representing AKEL and DISY. So, whose voters had the tickets paid by Focus been used by, considering DISY’s air-fares bill was accounted for?
AKEL has always resorted to propaganda techniques to distort the truth, but all it has achieved this time was to show off its skills at collecting large donations without the money trail leading directly to the party. But only a party that regularly accepts donations from dubious sources would take the trouble to have mechanisms in place that hide the money trail, especially at a time when it was legal for a political party to receive big donations without being obliged to divulge the identity of the donor.