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Cyprus

Audit office raises questions of president’s link to marina investors

Photo: CNA

The audit office has raised questions over passports granted to investors involved in the Ayia MNapa marina, linking circumstance surrounding the investment to the president’s family.

In a report about the ministry of tourism, issued on Friday, the audit office said that the cabinet had approved a request from the Ayia Napa marina operator to be given on lease, an adjacent plot of land of an area of 3,093 square metres to be developed for tourism.

For transparency reasons, the report said, it should be noted that one of the members of the Ayia Napa marina board comes from the family of President Nicos Anastasiades.

“Also, directors of the parent company were granted Cypriot citizenship between 2018 and 2020 as part of the Cypriot investment programme without meeting the criteria,” the report said.

Their naturalisation was handled by the law firm of the president’s daughters, it added.

The audit service further noted that the leasing agreement was not in line with the law, which states that an open, transparent, and competitive procedure must be followed while key terms in public contracts cannot be amended after the fact.

The report also focused on the fact that the government could lose money because of the inconsistent monitoring of late dues from the operation of the marinas.

The service said it detected deficiencies in some cases as regards the timely and systematic monitoring of late dues, which could cost the state in revenue.

The service said it has asked the energy ministry to justify the reasons for amending the St. Raphael marina contract, which meant a substantial reduction in the lease.

Of the Limassol marina, the report said there is a disagreement between the operator and the energy ministry over the adjustments to the lease “and we recommended resolving the matter to ensure public revenues.”

The report also highlighted the failure to collect past due revenues from renting facilities and mooring fees at Larnaca marina.

“We asked for mooring fees to be prepaid and efforts to collect past due revenues to continue.”

The audit service recommended that unused 2019 funds in Cyprus’ overseas tourism offices be used in actions to promote the island. The service also recommended that budgets should be based on a more rational basis in the future.

It added that the tourism ministry must also bolster payment audits and resolve shortcomings in keeping track of staff holidays and working hours.

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