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Auditor-general calls for probe into Disy official who also holds European bank post

Akel MP Irini Charalambidou

The auditor-general, Odysseas Michaelides, has asked the finance minister to order an administrative probe against an official of his ministry who also holds office at the ruling party Disy without first obtaining the permission of the Public Service Commission (PSC) as the law stipulates, it was reported on Friday.

According to the daily Phileleftheros, the issue emerged after Akel deputy Irini Charalambidou filed a report to Michaelides. Prior to the report, Charalambidou had called on Finance Minister Harris Georgiades in parliament to explain as to how Savia Orphanidou – an economist who works at his ministry and is also an elected member of Disy’s political office – was chosen to be transferred to the office of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxemburg. The MP also asked to see the permission Orphanidou had obtained from the PSC for being a member of Disy’s political office.

Georgiades told MPs, the daily said, that Orphanidou did not have to get such a permission, as she had the post in Disy’s pollical office before the law in question was put into force. Oprhanidou has held the Disy post since 2012.

Michaelides has disagreed with this assessment. In his letter sent to Georgiades, quoting the law on public service, he said that civil servants are allowed to be a simple member of a political party, but that they can be elected or appointed in a party office only after obtaining the permission of the PSC.

They are exempt from this only if they hold a position with a salary not exceeding the A7 scale of the government payroll.  According to the daily, Orphanidou is on the A8-11 pay scale.

“Based on the above, we believe that it is clear that until July 10, 2015 – when the law was put into force – Ms Orphanidou could not legally hold a political party office while after that date she could, as long as she secured the approval of the PSC,” the letter said, as published by Phileleftheros.

Michaelides asked the minister to launch an administrative probe against Orphanidou for violating Article 71 of the law on civil service, from the day she assumed the political party office until today.

He also asked Georgiades to hand over to his office all the correspondence concerning the transfer of Orphanidou to the EIB to determine the conditions under which she was chosen for the post.

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