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Almost 5,000 public servants illegally engaged in private sector – audit office

Photo: CNA

According to a confidential report sent by the audit office to the parliament on April 12, almost 5,000 civil servants and public service employees are illegally engaged in private-sector businesses as shareholders, directors or company secretaries.

The document, the contents of which were published in the media on Saturday, said some 3,700 civil servants plus another 1,200 or so employees in semi-government bodies, local authorities, police and state universities were engaged in the private sector despite the possibility of conflict of interest.

Public sector employees are obliged to declare their private interests and obtain permission for such activities from the finance ministry or in the case of the military, from the defence ministry to participate in private legal entities.

The increase in the number of government officials participating in private companies was flagged by the audit office, which, at the request of MPs on the House ethics committee, conducted an inquiry into the number of employees in the wider public sector who participate in the shareholding structure or hold the position of director or secretary to private companies.

In detail, out of the 8,590 employees in 71 organizations in the wider public sector, in which the relevant permission is required, 535 employees were identified (6.23 per cent) who, based on their identity number, appear to hold shares in one or more private companies.

Also, 321 employees (3.74 per cent), were found to be managers and 301 employees 3.5 per cent) are listed as company secretaries.

From telecommunications authority Cyta, out of a total of 1,584 employees, 122 hold shares, 58 are directors and 60 are company secretaries.

In the EAC, out of 2,122 employees, 108 have shares, 58 hold a managerial position and 59 have a company secretary title.

From the University of Cyprus, out of 834 employees, 61 hold shares, 46 hold the position of director and 31 the position of secretary.

Public Health Services Organisation (HIO) has 973 employees, of whom 36 are shareholders in the private sector with 27 who are directors and 23 are secretaries of companies.

The University of Technology (Tepak), out of 403 employees, the audit office found that 27 have shares, 18 are directors and 17 are secretaries.

The central bank was also included, where out of 290 employees, 13 have shares, while 20 employees are managers and secretaries.

The report also showed that 40 per cent of the employees in the sewerage board hold shares, 33 per cent are directors and 13 per cent are secretaries.

Peyia and Polis municipalities were also flagged with 27 per cent of employees in the former and 20 per cent in the latter, owning shares in private companies.

In Peyia, 13 per cent are directors and 20 per cent secretaries while in Polis, 10 per cent are directors and 10 per cent hold the position of secretary.

It was also found that in addition to 900 civil servants who directors, another 900 are secretaries in private companies.

The audit office has informed competent bodies to proceed with their own actions, within the framework of the legislation.

“It is important to take measures to implement the law and for those who violate it to be subject to sanctions,” the audit office note said.

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