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Cyprus

Hasikos in possible conflict of interests over office rent

Socratis Hasikos

Interior minister Socratis Hasikos may have violated the law on incompatibility with public office by owning a stake in a company that rents out a building to the Civil Aviation Department, and Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides has notified the attorney-general’s office, it emerged on Wednesday.

According to daily Phileleftheros, Michaelides said in a letter to Attorney-General Costas Clerides that, while Hasikos signed a document affirming he had disengaged from any business interests incompatible with his role as a government minister, he appears to still hold a majority stake in a company that rents office space to a government department.

Hasikos’ 60-per-cent stake in the company, the auditor-general said, has been confirmed through the department of the Registrar of Companies, which shows that the company’s records were updated as late as last November.

The Interior minister said he had not been aware that an investigation had been launched, adding that the leasing contract between his company and the Civil Aviation Department had already been in force when he was appointed minister.

According to the department, the paper said, Hasikos’ company appears to have received some €165,000 in rent so far, not including rent for 2016.

Despite having resigned his post as director of the company in February 2013, when he was appointed interior minister by President Nicos Anastasiades, Hasikos retained his 60-per-cent stake in the company.

Further, Phileleftheros reported that the Civil Aviation Department opened a new contest for office space, and Hasikos’ company once more won the contract.

According to the law on incompatibility with public office, which applies to ministers, MPs, independent officials, and others, state officials may not engage in business with the state, either in person or through a company they hold a stake in.

The law also stipulates that claims of incompatibility should be investigated by a designated committee comprising a retired judge, the state treasurer, a state attorney from the Legal Services, and the secretary general of the House of Representatives.

Whether the committee finds incompatibility or not, it is obliged to submit a report justifying its conclusions to the cabinet.

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