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Audit office reports ombudswoman to AG for failure to provide data

The auditor-general has reported Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou Lottides to the attorney-general after she refused to provide data as part of an audit, claiming Odysseas Michaelides did not have the authority in the case in question, the Cyprus Mail learned on Tuesday.

Failure to provide information to the auditor is an offence but Lottidis based her refusal on what appears to be a technicality.

In a December 19, 2017 letter to Michaelides, the ombudswoman suggested the auditor had no authority to draft ‘special reports’, only annual statements presented to the president each year.

The auditor had announced last year that he was changing the system and instead of one, hefty, annual report, the service would be issuing separate reports during the year after completing their audit of a department, service or organization, as was its mandate.

In the letter, Lottides asked the auditor to cite the article in the constitution, which granted him the authority to draft special reports, arguing there was no such provision.

She quotes Article 116 paragraph four which states that the “auditor-general shall submit annually a report on the exercise of his functions and duties…”

Lottides argued that the ombudsman was an ad personam institution and powers were vested exclusively to the individual and not to a service or department.

“In a nutshell, they do not head a service since the institution, being ad personam, confers all powers granted by the law to the individual.”

The matter appears to be one of a few on which the two independent state institutions have differences.

In the same letter, Lottides accused the auditor of bullying over his insistence that her outfit relocated after the expiry of the lease at its current location in March last year.

She said the auditor was interfering with her right to enter freely into a contract by saying she had to relocate without being asked and without having the authority, and by suggesting there was a violation of the building code, again, without having the authority.

The Cyprus Mail has learned the reason for the auditor’s objection is that the current building, Era House, on Nicosia’s central Diagorou Avenue, has no final approval due to multiple building code problems. Otherwise there would not be any problem.

Michaelides had warned Lottides that she would bear the responsibility if she renewed the contract at the current location.

She accused him of attempting, through intimidation, to prevent free choice and interfere with the terms of the contract.

Lottides said an effort had been made to find a new location but none met the terms of being at a central location and accessible to all, have disabled access, and low rent.

The current building met the requirements, including low rent at €7 per square-metre, she said.



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