A number of political actors have threatened to sue parliament should the latter publish a list of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), House president Adamos Adamou revealed on Monday.
“I’ve received letters and affirmations letting me know that, if the list comes out, they will launch lawsuits,” Adamou told the public broadcaster.
The warnings come from specific individuals from across the political spectrum, he added.
It’s understood that these individuals – a number of MPs feature on the list – would be suing on the grounds that their personal data was disclosed without their consent.
The thus far unpublished dossier concerns PEPs and the money they owed banks, including bad debts.
In the event of such legal action, Adamou said, it would be taxpayers (the state) who could end up paying for any damages awarded to the plaintiffs.
“On the other hand,” he went on, “we can’t allow this parasite to eat away at parliament any longer.”
He was alluding to the public perception that MPs are trying to hide their dirty laundry.
“I want to make it [the list] public so that we can finish with this story and stop being a laughing stock in the eyes of the people.”
In order to publish the list, parliament must first pass a relevant resolution requiring a majority of votes from MPs present.
As House president, Adamou could release the dossier on his own initiative – without a parliamentary resolution – but that would leave him personally liable to civil lawsuits.
By contrast, if parliament as a body releases the list, it is afforded some legal protection.
However at it stands there doesn’t seem to be enough support among the parliamentary parties for publishing the list. To date, only ruling Disy, the Citizens Alliance and the Greens are in favour. The rest are either against or haven’t committed yet.
The matter will be discussed again on Tuesday, where Adamou will further gauge the parties’ stance.
Weighing in, independent MP Anna Theologou on Monday said concerns over legal action by PEPs are unfounded.
In a statement addressed to Adamou, Theologou opined that the PEPs in question would not be able to sue on the grounds their personal data was violated.
She cited a law passed in 2004 concerning the declaration of assets and other interests of publicly exposed persons and certain other state officials.
The preamble reads: “These persons, having voluntarily taken up the exercise of public office, have thereby consented to being exposed to broader scrutiny of their private and financial life.”
In short, Theologou argues, by assuming a public office these individuals waived their right to privacy, which includes information on their financials.
“The question of them consenting to disclosure of their financial data therefore becomes moot,” Theologou explained to the Cyprus Mail.
She wants the PEP document released immediately, and as is.
The PEP list was first delivered to ex-House president Demetris Syllouris by former Central Bank boss Chrystalla Giorghadji in April of 2019 just before she stepped down.
Syllouris then returned it to the new Central Bank governor, Constantinos Herodotou, and the matter has been going back and forth ever since.