Members of the House watchdog committee on Thursday supported the auditor-general’s position that the government’s choice as commissioner for the development of mountain communities represented a conflict of interest.
Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides told the committee that through his position as commissioner, businessman Yiannakis Papadouris stands to gain personally from the plan to develop the mountain communities because of his business activity in the region.
The former community leader of Kalopanayiotis, Papadouris owns many properties, mostly in the village, and has interests in numerous companies with operations in the area.
He was appointed commissioner a year ago to oversee the interior minister’s strategic plan for the development of mountain regions, which seeks to halt and reverse the decades-long depopulation of the Troodos area by attracting more people to live in the area, promote tourism, balance the protection and exploitation of natural resources and improve infrastructure and transport.
Papadouris was considered well placed to oversee the plan because of his role in upgrading Kalopanayiotis. Since 2002, when he was voted community leader, Papadouris had been instrumental in transforming the village, adding roads and renovating old buildings into hotels, a library, self-catering apartments, a popular spa resort and restaurants.
But MPs were told on Thursday that two of his companies are also facing criminal charges relating to alleged offences committed in the process of developing certain properties.
Committee chairman, Diko MP, Zaharias Koulias, said Papadouris had two outstanding court cases, one brought by the district office in connection with illegal construction, and the second brought by the antiquities department for intervening in ancient monuments.
Theodosis Tsiolas, who represented the presidency at the committee, asked for more time to address the matter.
“There is no need to say what must be done but the matter is serious, and I expect them to appear before the committee soon so that we clear it,” Koulias said.
Akel MP Stephanos Stephanou said the Presidential Palace had insisted on an appointment that conflicted with the rules of good governance.
Papadouris is a businessman who developed land in the area for which he had been asked by the president to carry out a study, Stephanou said.
“No special knowledge is needed for one to arrive at the conclusion there is blatant conflict of interest here,” the Akel MP added.
The head of the committee that adjudicates on such cases said the matter will be examined on November 28.