Cyprus Mail

House approves bill on ‘conflict of interest’ for state officials

PARLIAMENT on Friday unanimously passed a bill regulating conflict of interest of state officials.

The Incompatible Offices Act, which had been submitted by the state, was amended by MPs who had removed a clause saying the Central Bank Governor and deputy would be immune from scrutiny.

Finance minister Harris Georgiades had sent a letter to the House Ethics committee on June 7 saying the reason the clause had initially been included was due to a suggestion by the former head of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet.

Nevertheless, MPs instead chose to remove from the list of officials to be regulated the registrar of companies as the person holding the title is a civil servant and thus falls under the responsibility of the Public Service Commission to scrutinise.

The legislation now requires a questionnaire be filled and any false or untrue statements be liable to a fine ranging from €1,708 to €10,000.

Investigations over allegations of conflict of interest will be handled by a committee that can initiate a robe after receiving a complaint or allegations in writing or if the committee sees fit.

It will have the authority to invite witnesses, documents and question those involved. Findings must be concluded no later than 40 days after investigations begin.

The matter will further be discussed in September, House Ethics committee chairman Zacharias Zachariou said, to grant the committee further powers to cover legislative gaps as far as conflict of interest is concerned.

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