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AG says world audit body ignored key provision in criticism of Cyprus

AG Giorgos Savvides

The attorney-general said Thursday the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (Intosai) had ignored a key provision of its own guidelines in a statement it issued expressing concern over the government’s refusal to convey information relating to the island’s citizenship by investment programme to the audit service.

In a written statement, Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides said Intosai made no mention of a guideline that prevents audit services from carrying out parallel probes in cases that involve a criminal element.

The government refused to hand over the information requested by the service, claiming it would affect the ongoing probe, especially if there were leaks or any findings published before the panel’s report.

Based on that standard, criminal investigators or other authorities have the right to “even ask for the termination of ongoing audit procedures,” Savvides said.

Irrespective of this, Intosai’s statement states that it “is voluntary and non-binding statement, whose content is … without legal status under international law,” Savvides said.

On Wednesday, Intosai said “we share the concerns of the audit service over the restrictions placed on its right of access to information.”

“We believe that this restriction, although described as temporary, conflicts with the spirit of the Lima and Mexico Declarations concerning the independence of Supreme Audit Institutions, and can possibly affect other aspects of independence, as is the right to decide on the completion time and publication of its reports.”

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