President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday night called on the auditor-general to “immediately” investigate allegations implying his in-laws had been favoured in a tender for the procurement of four police patrol boats.
Anastasiades also urged the auditor-general to release his findings “in order to establish the truth of the matter.”
“I shall tolerate from no one the slightest imputation that I favoured anyone, be it a family relative or not, with regard to a public tender.”
The link to Anastasiades in-laws came up earlier in the day during a heated discussion at the House watchdog committee which was discussing serious mechanical faults the vessels had, when it emerged the company Folysson Holdings Ltd, the local representative of the Taiwanese contractor, which won the contract had links to Anastasiades.
Akel MP Irini Charalambidou said everyone had the right to submit bids but “some people cannot permanently be in a favourable position because they have access, through friendship or family ties, with the Republic’s top institution.”
“Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion,” she said, using a proverb to stress that the associates of public figures must not even be suspected of wrongdoing.
Charalambidou was referring to a company partly owned by Anastasiades’ in-laws, the Loutsios family.
The Akel MP said the patrol boats were bought for €2m and problems started to emerge as soon as they were delivered by the Taiwanese company.
She also questioned why the particular company was eventually selected when there was another bid, from Italian shipyards, that was cheaper by €80,000.
Charalambidou said the correspondence between the police and the company in Taiwan was done through their local representative, Maserati CY, according to the auditor-general.
She added: “The second individual, apart from the contractor, who appeared before the watchdog committee today, was an employee of Maserati CY, whose electronic address belongs to another company, Modena Automobile Limited, whose shareholders and partners are Mr Christos Chrysostomou, Mr Theofanis Philippou, and Andis Loutsios.”
Philippou appears to be the same person as the managing partner in Anastasiades’ law firm.
The tender was initially awarded to the Italians but there was an appeal and it went to the tender review board, which awarded the contract to the company in question.
“We were surprised by the fact that the contractor’s lawyer at the review board was Nicholas Christofinis, a lawyer at Nicos Anastasiades’ law firm,” Charalambidou said.
The review board decided by majority decision, 3-2 and it did not share the view that the Italian company did not manufacture boats of the same type for the last two years, a fact that essentially excluded it, the MP said.
“The conditions of a tender are judged by the result and the result was to give it to a company in Taiwan and the boats having big problems as soon as they arrived in Cyprus, resulting in the replacement of four engines,” she said.
Ruling Disy MP Andreas Kyprianou accused Akel of raising non-existent issues in a bid to hurt the president.
Kyprianou said the same boats were procured from the same company during the Demetris Christofias administration.
“If Nicos Anastasiades had the power or the intention to influence the review board, why didn’t he influence the ministry, which initially placed the company in question in second place?” Kyprianou said.
The Disy MP suggested that the discussion before the committee resembled that of a coffee shop because “some people want to engage in petty politics.”
He conceded there had problems with the boats but they had been resolved without the taxpayer paying a cent.
“If the Cypriot parliament or the state, want to ban any family members by marriage or first-degree relatives of politicians, then they can pass a law on conflict of interest,” he said, adding that Loutsios was a company representative before he became Anastasiades’ son-in-law.