A newly established unit coordinating the investigation of corruption cases convened for the first time on Thursday, with attorney-general Giorgos Savvides stressing that the department and its work are distinct from the recently created anti-corruption authority.
Heading up the new unit, a department in the Law Office of the Republic, will be the attorney-general or the deputy attorney-general.
Its members will include the chief of police and the head of the anti-money laundering unit. Where they are unable to attend meetings, they will send representatives.
Representatives of other public organisations will also be allowed to sit in on meetings. The unit will convene at regular intervals, as well as on ad hoc basis if needed.
Speaking at a news conference, Savvides said the unit’s task will be to oversee and coordinate investigations into corruption cases, or cases which partially involve corruption, also ensuring there is no overlap between involved departments.
Their intention is to cooperate with the independent anti-corruption authority, the AG said.
But it will be distinct from that authority, which is the go-to-place for any member of the public to report suspect corruption in the public or even the private sector.
“I wouldn’t want to give the impression that we are setting up another [anti-corruption] body that will issue annual reports,” noted Savvides.
Asked what is the purpose of the new unit within the attorney-general’s office, the AG said that “it was deemed that collective wisdom, the exchange of views from various departments dealing with corruption phenomena, would be helpful.”
On what cases the unit will start off with, Savvides replied that they have assigned priority to the findings of a committee of inquiry regarding the now-defunct citizenship-by-investment scheme.
On naturalisations, the AG said that few cases have so far not made it to court, but added that the point was not speed but rather to carefully build a case that can stand up in a court of law.
He also appealed to the media to avoid setting up ‘people’s courts’ or misusing names of people who may be under suspicion or investigation.
The AG said he was confident that more such cases would make it to court.