Transparency Commissioner Haris Poyadjis on Monday said that the allegations of corruption against President Nicos Anastasiades made in books written by one of his former advisers Makarios Droushiotis will be investigated by a special independent team coming from abroad.
At the end of last November, government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said Anastasiades had called on Poyiadjis, who heads the anti-corruption authority, to investigate claims made in the books The Gang (I Simmoria), Crimes at Crans-Montana (Egklima sto Kran Montana), and The Mafia State (Kratos Mafia).
Presidential candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis also urged the anti-corruption authority to thoroughly examine the author’s claims.
In all three volumes Droushiotis argues that corruption is rife across all levels of government.
Speaking to daily Phileleftheros on Monday, Poyadjis said that the team tasked with investigating the matter will be headed by a Greek-speaking expert, so there will be no need to translate the books.
However, he specified that there is still no timeline for when the examination will begin, as the anti-corruption authority has received as many as 20 complaints on the matter so far, that will need to be verified first.
“The team will work autonomously, but will regularly inform us on its progress. The anti-corruption authority will also be informed on which witnesses the team will talk to, in order to better track any sign or accusation of corruption,” Poyidjis said.
He also said that most likely Droushiotis will be the first person called to testify and substantiate his claims against Anastasiades and his government. Furthermore, he defended the choice of appointing a team from abroad.
“We did so in order to demonstrate our complete impartiality in the matter,” Poyadjis said. “Cypriots are suspicious, especially when it comes to accusations of corruption involving the government.
“The anti-corruption authority has also often been the target of accusations. By appointing an external team to investigate the allegations, we remain impartial.”
Poyadjis added that the investigative team, whose leader is yet to be appointed, will have to familiarise with the Cypriot legislation and jurisdiction first and assured the anti-corruption authority will provide the appropriate guidance.
“The official opening of the investigation should begin in about a month and a half. We still need to examine and verify the credibility of some allegations moved against the office.
“We need to be precise and thorough, nothing can be left out. Aside from the accusations by Droushiotis, we also received phone calls from several people claiming they are aware of issues linked to corruption at governmental level. Those are hard to verify and require more time,” Poyadjis said.
The head of the anti-corruption authority also made it clear that his office will not have the power open a formal criminal investigation and that it will be up to the attorney general to do so.
“Our work will end when the investigation of the claims and accusations is over. From then on, it will be the AG’s responsibility to decide how to proceed.”
On the last point, however, Poyadjis argued that the anti-corruption authority’s powers need to be increased.
“I am in favour of the expansion of powers for our office. We are an independent authority and we should also be able to summon people to court,” he concluded.
In a related development, it emerged on Monday that the Nicosia district court on December 23 rejected the request to ban Droushiotis’ ‘The Mafia State’ from circulation. The request was made by a computer analyst who was accused in the book of having installed spyware on the author’s device.
In his ruling, district judge Theodoros Theodorou deemed the request invalid after Droushiotis’ lawyer argued that the facts mentioned in the book accusing the computer analyst are substantiated by the results of a judicial investigation on his computer carried by a forensic laboratory.