Cyprus Mail
Tales from the Coffeeshop

Coffeeshop: Of mice and men: the best plans for financial cover-ups

As the election period goes into full swing, it will be time for selfies and crashing wedding fiestas by all candidates

 

AFTER years of foot-dragging and lame excuses by the parties, the eagerly-awaited law that would allegedly introduce transparency and combat corruption by forcing our politicians to declare full details about their assets was finally implemented this week. It was, as you would expect, a farcical law designed not to achieve either of the above objectives.

Its main objective was to get the Council of Europe, which had been pressuring us to pass such a law for years, off our back. The secondary objective of self-serving, sleaze-ball deputies was to fool the dumb public, by creating the crudely false impression that now there would be transparency about their assets.

We, the dumb idiots, would now know who was using his position to get rich, because the sleaze-balls would have the honesty to include the bribery money they were paid in the capital statement they would submit to the House of Representatives. They would be certain to declare the pay-off received to draft a specific law, rather than put the lolly in the bank account of their spouse, who was not obliged to submit a capital statement.

Not that this would be necessary, as the law they passed allows the submission of false or incomplete capital statements. No penalty is stipulated by the law for signing a false or incomplete declaration, assuming there was any way of finding out. But there will be no way of finding out as the statements would be policed by a committee of deputies, chaired by the House president, and as everyone knows there is honour, not only among thieves, but also among our honest deputies.

 

ANY CITIZEN, who has information that a politician had omitted to include the flat he had received as a gift from a developer in his capital statement, would be able report him. If the accusation turns out to be incorrect the citizen would be prosecuted for the offence carrying a hefty fine and/or one year in prison.

And there is a high probability that it would be incorrect because the flat could be in the name of the politician’s wife. The anti-corruption law, as we said above, enables the wife or the kids of the corrupt politician to receive the briberies on his behalf, because they are not under scrutiny, as the pseudo-transparency does not extend to them.

Why would any sane citizen exercise the right to report a crooked politician when he knows there would be zero consequences for the liar, while he would run the risk of ending up in prison? I would bet all my non-existent assets on the House committee investigation finding that a politician under accusation had done nothing wrong. There is probably a provision in the law stipulating that all the committee’s investigations must result in a cover-up.

This is only fair enough because you cannot punish a politician for forgetting to include the money he has in a foreign bank account in his capital statements. The account might after all be in the name of his wife. No nonsense about Caesar’s wife here.

 

LOOKING at the capital statements of our deputies and cabinet members, I could not help noticing that Prez Nik had a meagre six grand in his bank account, a vineyard and 12 fields in Pera Pedi, and two small apartments in Limassol that were bought in the eighties.

Without suggesting for a second that he submitted an inaccurate statement, I find it unbelievable that he amassed next to nothing in his name – no cash, no shares and no properties – from his law office, which had among its clients, long before he became prez, some fabulously wealthy Russians, to whom I doubt he was offering his services for free. These were clients involved in transactions of hundreds of millions of euro.

I thought our prez had a personal fortune of at least €10m (this is a very modest estimate) given the profile of his law office clients, but I was obviously wrong. For the record, I would like to categorically state that I am not suggesting, implying or hinting, under any circumstances, that our prez has any more assets other than the six grand in cash he declared in his capital statement, the 12 fields in Pera Pedi, and the €6,700 worth of shares in Woolworth, Hellenic Bank and two football clubs. I repeat, I have no knowledge that he has any other assets than those listed in his statement, which I am certain is both accurate and truthful down to the last detail.

 

I ALSO found it peculiar, even though I am not for a second questioning that accuracy of his statement, that presidential candidate Nikolas 2018 (also known to customers as Junior), who is a trust fund beneficiary and scion of one of Kyproulla’s wealthiest families, would have as little as 32 grand in his Cyprus bank accounts.

It is also admirable that on an income of a little over 100 grand in 2015 he supported a family of 5 and was also paying for the building of a small hotel-sized house in Strovolos, on a plot he valued at €985,000, that unlike the rest of the properties, he did not list as a gift from a parent. In fairness, there is no way Junior became wealthy from his career as a politician.

He was mega-rich long before he entered politics and if he accidentally forgot to include all his assets in his statement it would be understandable as it could undermine his election bid. People are envious of big wealth and could decide to punish Nikolas 2018 in the elections if they perceived him as a spoiled, mega-rich kid that he is quite clearly not.

 

SEEING the capital statement of Dr Eleni Theocharous, I was again shocked by the fact that she collects €60,000 per year in state pensions, over and above her 100K salary from the European Parliament. We have written about this many times before, but no normal country gives such pensions.

Ninety per cent of the working population that contributes to wealth creation does not get paid so much in a year, but our loony state has somehow found a way to pay someone that contributes nothing five times the average wage. It is not Dr Eleni’s fault, but of our politicians’, who passed these crackpot multi-pension laws that are lawful theft.

One of the assets listed by Dr Eleni, who has over 200K in her bank account, was what she described as a “privileged burial plot at Engomi cemetery.” Nobody has managed to tell us what the benefits of the “privileged burial plot” are. Is it bigger than average so there is more room to build a monument to the deceased? Does it allow the deceased to jump the queue for paradise, to which the saintly Dr Eleni is certain to go when her time comes?

Perhaps the “privileged burial plot” allows you to carry on receiving your state pension in heaven. Would not be surprised if there was a law for this.

 

THE FULL BENCH of the Supreme Court, according to an announcement by the Attorney-General on Wednesday, found that two laws approved by our illustrious deputies in April 2016 were unconstitutional. The laws were referred to the AG by Prez Nik.

This brings the number of laws approved by the House in April 2016 and declared unconstitutional to 15 – sixteen were approved in total. Such a level of cluelessness and incompetence by our lawmakers is truly spectacular. In any other field of work, failure of such epic proportions would have led to the sacking of everyone involved.

If 93.75 per cent of a month’s output of any production unit was faulty it would have been closed down and all the employees sacked. Sadly, this does not apply in politics, even if our so-called lawmakers prove, beyond any doubt, they are incapable of making laws that would comply with the constitution. A month after the record production of unconstitutional laws, many of the deputies were voted back into the House to continue their poor work.

In mitigation, the 15 unconstitutional laws were approved one month before the parliamentary elections. Deputies might not have been as clueless as we think. They may have known these laws were in violation of the constitution, but voted for them anyway, because they were vote-winners and elections were only a month away. By the time the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional the elections would be over.

 

LAST SUNDAY, we wrote how our presidential candidates and some of our newspaper were trying to keep alive the Cyprob, refusing to come to terms with the fact that the party’s over and there is nothing to be gained electorally by going on about it. These noble efforts have continued in the last week, led by Phil for which the Cyprob is part of its identity.

“The Cyprob sets the election scene on fire” said a small headline on the front page on Tuesday, referring the reader who wanted to find out about the extent of the fire to the inside pages. On Wednesday, the Cyprob was given the banner headline, Phil informing us “These are the Anastasiades ‘gifts’.” The paper had got its hands on two of the documents Nik had enclosed in the “secret” letter and published them to “inform citizens” about the Prez’s concession to the Turks.

On Thursday, it was a banner headline again, informing us about the “Collapse without responsibilities,” that the UNSG’s report about the collapse of the process in Crans-Montana would not place responsibility on The Turkish side.

 

THE CORRESPONDENTS of Cypriot media in New York are also trying to keep the Cyprob flag flying as the exchange at UN headquarters below shows. The correspondent was a certain Nicos Antoniades who must be a recent arrival in the Big Apple and the answers were given by the UNSG’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Antoniades: Please allow me two questions on the Cyprus issue; is that okay?

Dujarric: I always enjoy getting questions on the Cyprus issue.

A: Thanks. Two weeks ago…

D: I do. I don’t have much to say, but I enjoy the questions. Sorry, go ahead.

A: Hopefully, you do have something to say, because it’s a very important problem. I hope so.

D: No, I do. I don’t mean to make light of it. Go ahead.

A: Okay. Two weeks ago, Farhan [Haq] said: “We’re in a period of reflection and a period of cooling off. After that, we certainly hope and expect the parties would come back ready to talk to each other.” This is what he said. The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. [Nikos] Anastasiades, indicated several times that he’s ready to talk once Mr. [António] Guterres’s framework is accepted by all parties. On the other hand, Turkey continuously issues legal notices, violating the Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, and also restricts the Greek Cypriots to visit some of their churches in the occupied area. Under the circumstances, which prevent their reunification of Cyprus, how could the General Secretary develop any potential? Are the United Nations still classifying the Cyprus problem as a problem of Turkish invasion and occupation and not just a problem between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots? Do you want me to go to the second one?

D: I think that’s quite a lot to digest… .

If the UN thought they would get rid of the Cyprob so easily they were wrong. We will keep the flag flying for as long as Turkish intransigence prevents us from a peaceful settlement.

 

And do not forget to follow Patroclos @Coffeeshop1991on Twitter.

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