Director of veterinary services Christodoulos Pipis has been accused of negligence and unevenness in the performance of his legal duties regarding the operation of two Nicosia abattoirs, endangering public health and causing loss of revenue for the state.
This was part of the conclusions of an investigation conducted by the general director of the ministry of education, after his appointment to look into Pipis’ role by the council of ministers in October 2021.
The report will now be sent to the Attorney general George Savvides.
According to Philenews, the investigation concluded that Pipis, through both action and omission, violated the duties of his role, committing offences that carry disciplinary and possibly even criminal charges.
The subject of the investigation was the director’s delay in making a final decision on whether or not to impose administrative fines on one of two abattoirs under investigation for serious legal and health violations. The omission resulted in one specific slaughterhouse not complying with inspection outcomes.
The director of veterinary services, while validating fines in one of the two slaughterhouses, did not validate the fines related to the second slaughterhouse. He is accused of unequal treatment at the expense of public interest and public health, motivated by possible personal gain.
The auditor general, speaking before the investigative committee on the matter, said that such actions are either the result of incompetence or protecting personal interests.
“From my 23-year-long experience of the public sector, such behaviours are often the result of incompetence and sometimes the inevitable result when someone has his own dirty laundry and doesn’t stand to gain by rigorous enforcement [of the legal processes].”
Either way, he stated, the veterinary director’s actions undermined the public interest.
Cypra, the abattoir in question, is owned by the husband of the state treasurer. The company found itself in the eye of the storm in November 2021 after some 100 staff at the facility tested positive for the coronavirus, and it later emerged the majority were asylum seekers who had not been declared to the department of social insurance.
The matter gradually snowballed, revealing a slew of building and environmental code violations that were never properly addressed, ostensibly due to slow bureaucratic and legal procedures.
Testimony also emerged focussing on another company, by the name of Sigan Management Ltd, which landed a no-bid public contract for processing animal waste, then saw the contract extended several times over a 15-year span.
Accusations that the company received preferential treatment also came up over a settlement deal between Cypra and the government, where the former agreed to pay veterinary fees owed to the state but was charged no interest on these dues as it should have been.