Opap Cyprus Ltd, a subsidiary of the Greek gambling giant, reiterated on Tuesday that the annual dues it pays to the government are in line with the agreement signed between Cyprus and Greece in 2003.
The statement was in response to continued media reports that Opap was not paying its fair share to the government.
In a statement, Opap cited the response of the State Treasurer to a question posed by Greens MP George Perdikis.
In her response, the State Treasurer confirmed that Opap was paying the correct amount to the state.
Opap further cited a statement by finance minister Harris Georgiades dated November 6. In it, the minister said the State Treasurer assured him that she checked Opap’s payments to the state up until 2012 and determined the payments were in line with the interstate agreement.
The State Treasurer also said the difference between the company’s ‘attributable expenses’ and its real operating expenses had no bearing on the amount Opap pays the state.
These statements by officials should put paid to erroneous allegations of misfeasance on the company’s part, Opap said.
It said the interstate agreement is regularly reviewed by a three-member committee appointed by the cabinet. In the latest regular review, in June of this year, the committee gave Opap a clean bill of health.
“Cypriots have known Opap for 48 years, and are aware of our continuous contributions to all our fellow citizens, vulnerable groups, athletes, clubs and foundations. Opap has been, and shall remain, close to the people,” the statement concluded.
Once a state-run betting giant – founded in Greece in 1958 – Opap turned into a joint stock company in 1999, and in 2013 the cash-strapped Greek state sold the majority of stocks to Emma Delta Hellenic Holding Limited, a Greek-Czech group.
Based on the interstate agreement between Cyprus and Greece, Opap is the only company allowed to run lottery games on the island. The deal was signed when Opap belonged to the Greek state.
Critics argue that since the Greek state is no longer a shareholder, Opap’s special status should be abolished.
Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has pointed to problematic clauses in the interstate agreement, where the theoretical, as opposed to real, winnings paid out to winners, are deducted from Opap’s annual revenues before the dues to the state are calculated.
As a result, the state is losing some €12 million a year in potential additional earnings from the deal, Michaelides has said.