Cyprus Mail
Cyprus

Ports authority under scrutiny at House

Authorities had decided not to prosecute two former senior Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) cadres who were being investigated for abusing ‘revolving door’ rules for civil servants, lawmakers heard on Thursday.

The affair relates to two deputy port directors who, shortly after leaving the CPA, landed jobs at the private companies which got concessions on the port’s commercial operations, after the port had been privatised.

In parliament, Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said the former deputy director of the ports of Larnaca and Vasilikos, was hired by the private company VTS Terminal Services Ltd immediately after he quit the CPA.

The other case relates to the former deputy director of the port of Limassol, who got a job as general manager at Eurogate – the company with the concession to handle containers at the port.

In addition, as a CPA employee this individual had taken part in the concession negotiations between the CPA and Eurogate.

According to the auditor-general, the matter – which dates back a few years – had been referred to the office of then attorney-general Costas Clerides. The police opened an investigation into the two former CPA cadres.

Later, when the Audit Office asked for an update on the course of the police investigation, it was told that the case was dropped on the orders of the attorney-general.

The reveals came during a session of the House audit committee, where Michaelides walked MPs through his special report on the CPA covering the period 2016-2020.

Another matter flagged in the dossier concerned the monetary compensation paid by the state to port workers in exchange for the latter relinquishing their licences when the ports of Larnaca and Limassol were privatised.

A total of €27 million was given to 28 licensed port workers in Limassol, and €3.6 million to 22 port workers in Larnaca.

On this, the auditor-general cited a legal opinion that found the port workers had no legitimate right to compensation.

Elsewhere the report mentions the case of a company managing space at the port of Limassol. While this company was undergoing liquidation proceedings, it sold its license for €900,000 to another company. On top of that, they paid €350,000 ‘under the table’. This happened with the full knowledge of the CPA, the auditor-general states. The CPA should have called for tenders to find a new concessionaire – it never did.

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