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NGO accuses auditor general of letting president off the hook over Saudi jet

Odysseas Michaelides

Opek, an NGO promoting the modernisation of society, has accused Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides of letting President Anastasiades off the hook in the report about the issuing of passports to people he had friendly ties with and about his use of a private jet.

In an announcement issued on Tuesday the board of Opek said the latest report by the auditor-general, “constitutes a disappointing confirmation of the reservations the NGO has for the way Mr Odysseas Michaelides operates.”

While the board acknowledged the latest report had some information that documented the president’s responsibility, it was marked by “an effort not to take a stand on the critical issues, or for this stand to be ambiguous and ‘cautious’.” It believed the auditor-general caused disappointment to society for several reasons, which it listed.

On vital issues his priority was “self-protection and not the interest of society, as society would expect.” He was also “extremely selective on issues he deals with, avoiding all the big issues that were of interest to society.”

It cited as examples the scandal of Turkish Cypriot properties, Eleftheria Square, the Nicosia Municipal Theatre, the waste treatment plant in Pentakomo and the 42 passports given to Saudi Arabians among others.

Michaelides was also accused of displaying “excessive zeal in the search for witches when it came to initiatives that promote contact between the two communities on the island.”

His obsessive investigation into the €12,000 paid by the Cyprus Theatre Organisation (Thoc) to take people to the ancient amphitheatre in Salamis for a performance was an example of this excessive zeal, which he did not exhibit in much more important cases involving millions, said Opek.

The NGO also accused him of going for easy targets. “He targets specific individuals or institutions, about which he is certain he will have the benefit of publicity, without being at risk, from their power or role to become involved in serious issues,” it said in what was a reference to Michaelides’ ongoing spat with the ombudswoman.

“He deals more with the publicity dimension of the institution he serves rather than his remit.”

Finally, it called on the auditor-general to take a clear stand on “whether the case of the issuing of the 42 passports was an abuse of power and conflict of interest and whether the family trip [by President Nicos Anastasiades] to the Seychelles (on a private jet) was a case of conflict of interest.”

 

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