Opposition parties accused the authorities of lacking accountability and transparency after the presidency, the anti-money laundering unit (Mokas), and the Legal Service, did not show up in parliament during discussion of the so-called Pandora Papers, which implicated two Cypriot law firms, including the one bearing the President Nicos Anastasiades’ name.
Chairman of the House ethics committee, ruling Disy MP Demetris Demetriou, informed his colleagues at the start of the session that the presidency had called the previous day, saying a representative will attend after all the views have been heard.
Demetriou said he expected the presidency to attend next Wednesday when the committee continued discussion of the matter.
The Pandora leaks exposed the offshore financial dealings of many leaders worldwide who allegedly stashed assets in covert companies and trusts.
The two Cypriot firms named in the papers are the one founded by Anastasiades, which still bears his name, and the other, Demetrios A. Demetriades LLC – also referred to as ‘DadLaw’.
Anastasiades has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing after the law firm he founded was accused of hiding the assets of a former Russian senator behind fake beneficial owners in a secret report filed with financial regulators in the British Virgin Islands.
A resolution by the European Parliament called for an in-depth investigation by member states into politicians whose names appear in the Pandora Papers, with the draft specifically mentioning Anastasiades and other present and former political leaders.
On Wednesday, Demetriou tried to defend the presidency, saying it was not refusing to show up.
Referring to a letter Anastasiades had sent to the committee, Demetriou said they were prepared to appear and give their views on issues that concern the president.
Of the absence of the Legal Service and Mokas, which is under the former, Demetriou said parliament should be respected when it summons people to appear before its committees.
Demetriou said Mokas’ excuse was that it had not received any questions so there was no need to attend while the Legal Service said it was covered by the attorney-general’s October 26 statement in which he asked all involved parties to keep them informed on everything related to the Papers.
Main opposition Akel MP Andeas Pashiourtides said it was tragic for the presidency not to show up to a meeting when Anastasiades is dubbed by the foreign media “The offshore President”.
Also absent were Mokas and the Legal Service, he said, which meanwhile have received requests from the Bar association seeking certain information about the two firms. To date, neither has responded, he added.
Green party MP Alexandra Attalides said corruption was dangerous because it undermined public interest and democracy “and this was evident today.”
She said their refusal to attend showed a refusal to be held accountable and transparency.
Attalides stressed the severity of the matter and censured the Legal Service and Mokas for not showing up.
Both Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides and his deputy, Savvas Angelides, had served as ministers before their appointment, dealing with issues that were now under investigation.
“That is why they must be very careful when they refuse to appear before the ethics committee.”
The head of Mokas, on the other hand, had also warned the committee last time that she would not attend again because she did not like the questions, Attalides said.