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Audit service to go to international body over cushy roles for conscripts

national guard swearing in 2021 960x720
File photo: national guard (by Christos Theodorides)

The audit service on Wednesday said it would report the defence ministry and national guard to the international organisation of supreme audit institutions over its refusal to hand over documents that concern a corruption and bribery investigation.

Last September the service received a report that children of state officials or those associated with high-profile relatives have “favourable and privileged” treatment when they serve in the national guard.

“In fact, sometimes they serve in positions that are not necessary but have been created on the spot, which would mean a waste of public funds,” the audit service said. This is because national guard needs that aren’t met need to be taken up by contractors, it added.

After receiving the report, the audit service informed the defence ministry and national guard verbally and then via email on October 5, asking for a list of enlisted soldiers and officers serving with the respective authorities. The audit service sought to have a detailed report over who was connected with any state officials or high-ranking national guard members.

Despite initial assurances that the information would be handed over, the defence ministry notified the audit service on January 9 that they would not be sharing this information.

In turn, the audit service reported this to the attorney general, and filed a complaint to the independent authority against corruption. The attorney general deemed the audit service did not have enough reason to access the said data.

The audit service said it had hoped that due to the pledges made during the presidential campaign, the current government would see things differently.

“The new defence minister, after discussing with the president of Republic, also chose to deny our access to this data. The matter is extremely serious because based on the report, there is a state official involved and a minister.”

The audit service made a dig at the deputy attorney general who in 2020 served as defence minister. The service intended to expand its audit to span back to 2020.

“Unfortunately, the last government temporarily (for about a year) prevented us to audit the Cyprus investment programme. The current government, even worse, permanently denies us the ability to audit human resources (which falls under our duties) in a case that points towards corruption and bribery.”

The audit service said it would also inform the European Commission over the matter.

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