The board of the Authority for the Development of Human Resources (Anad) on Tuesday said it will report the Association of Licensed Electrician Contractors of Nicosia (Seik) to the police after it cheated it out of €373,000.
The decision was taken at a hastily called board meeting to consider two legal opinions submitted at the end of last week by the legal advisors of the Authority, which had been accused by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve) of trying to reach a deal with Seik.
The Board of Anad, an SGO that subsidises staff training seminars and is made up of representatives of the social partners – state, unions and employers – tried to brush the matter aside, but met with opposition from the representative of Keve, whose organisation accused the Authority of attempting covering up theft of public money.
In the first opinion, dated July 15, the legal advisors of Anad wrote they considered there was the possibility that criminal offences had been committed, including obtaining money under false pretences, deceit and fraud. “Our personal opinion is that based on the information put before us, there are serious indications that there was an attempt to defraud.”
Seik had not disputed it had received €373,000 above what it was entitled to and in a letter to the Anad board dated 29 June, 2020, offered to pay it back gradually. It proposed that this amount could be repaid to Anad by the docking of 30 per cent from future subsidies for Seik training programmes.
It also suggested that of €171,500 owed in subsidies to an employer for confirmed costs of training programmes, €71,500 could go towards reducing its debt. The employer would collect €100,000 while the amount Anad had been cheated out of would thus be reduced to a little over €300,000.
The issue of paying Seik the €171,500 had been put to the legal advisors of Anad after an investigation carried out by its officials had discovered fraudulent payment claims and they advised against any payment being made in a letter dated 18 May 2020.
Despite this legal opinion the board carried on trying to reach a compromise with Seik. After Keve publicly exposed attempts to reach a deal and reported the case to Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou another legal opinion was sought as to whether the board could reach a settlement without involving the police. The legal advisors said no, urging Anad to demand the money back that Seik had received through fraudulent documentation.
In the second opinion the advisors cite the following rule: “In the case that it is found the beneficiary has not complied with the terms of the payment of the subsidy, the return of the amounts paid must be sought.”
The two legal opinions left the board with no choice but to abandon its attempts to reach a deal with Seik even though questions persist as to why the board had shown such readiness to let off an organisation that had been making fraudulent claims.