By Andria Kades
The Ombduswoman’s refusal to grant Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides full access to the records of her office has prompted a new row playing out in the public arena.
Though the row has been brewing behind the scenes for months, Michaelides brought up the matter earlier this week in parliament during a session of the House watchdog committee which he attended.
During the session, he told MPs the ombudswoman Maria Stylianou Lottides could potentially be committing a criminal offence and he said as much in a letter to the attorney-general.
Michaelides claims he does not want details of staff’s cases, only the number of complaints filed to the office between 2016 – 2017 and how many of them were dealt with in the same period, which she refuses to grant him access to.
“We do not want the contents of the cases the staff is working on,” he specified. Only to know how many investigations her personnel are working on so they can assess how long they have been on the case and in turn see the efficiency of the staff.
“These people are paid by the Cypriot taxpayer,” and as such should be subject to the auditor’s inspection, he told Cybc.
Lottides however countered that he said otherwise in a letter sent to her earlier this year requesting “every single document, contract and letter.”
The auditor argues he is allowed as per the law however in a statement, Lottides outlined that the Ombudswoman’s office is not included in the list of individuals obliged to give data to the auditor’s office.
“I allowed a financial audit on my office however I had no right to allow a management audit with access to every bundle and information for all cases that employees have as well as how long it takes for them to do that.”
Lottides said she has made a report sent to Michaelides which she will make public, outlining what, according to her, his rights are when it comes to auditing her office.
She has also reported him to the World Institute of Ombudspersons and quotes an announcement dated March 3 from this year, calling for measures to be in place in case Michaelides ‘continues this behaviour’ according to reports.