Cyprus Mail

Audit office ups criticism of law commissioner

Law Commissioner Leda Koursoumba

The audit office on Friday slammed Law Commissioner Leda Koursoumba’s statement that its report on her office mispresented the situation.

In a press release, the audit office said Koursoumba’s statement on Thursday was proof ‘of the resistance put up by any person under scrutiny for mismanagement for which they are solely responsible’.

“The commissioner is right to feel sorrow for the report, but the reason for her sorrow should be the content of the report and not that we did not hush down the scandalous mismanagement, as per her requests in her letters,” the announcement said.

The report, released on Thursday, said that hundreds of thousands of euros were being squandered on boondoggles. The report focuses on the office’s farming out of contracts to private lawyers who worked on drafting several federal laws for the unified state emerging after a settlement of the Cyprus problem. According to the audit office, extravagant amounts were wasted on various contracts for the provision of services with non-transparent processes, pointing out to ‘an evident picture of mismanagement at the office’.

Another instance pointing to misuse of taxpayers’ money involves contracts awarded by the office of the law commissioner to a former ambassador.

From December 2003 to July 2017, the law commissioner awarded 13 contracts worth a total of €396,172, first to the ambassador and subsequently to a private company.

That company, as it turned out, belonged to relatives of the same ex-ambassador.

Both the former ambassador, now aged 75, and the company were tasked with listing, summarizing and indexing the international treaties entered into by the Republic of Cyprus. But according to the auditor-general, this was money down the drain because a record of the treaties is in any case kept by the foreign ministry.

Koursoumba on Thursday expressed ‘grief’ at the report and said that the auditor-general was mispresenting the situation as he had omitted to include her remarks in his report.

The audit office said that it was unacceptable for the commissioner to criticise it for not compiling its report as she had demanded. This is an attempt to intervene in the work of the audit office, it said, which takes the views of the auditee and lists them and comments as it decides is best. Such a process, it said, ensures a comprehensive report.

“We believe that this has also been done in this case. The evidence is the fact that the commissioner has not been able to state a single piece of data that justifies the huge sums disbursed in various service contracts through opaque procedures and the resulting obvious mismanagement of her office,” it said.

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