Cyprus Mail

MPs reject casino appointment over conflict of interest with Hermes airport

maria kouroupi

Parliamentarians on Tuesday again rejected one of the government’s proposed appointees to the Gaming & Casino Supervision Commission due to her links to a private company.

The dispute concerns the appointment to the commission of Maria Kouroupi, a senior manager with Hermes Airports – the consortium with the concession to operate the island’s two airports.

She is one of three new proposed appointees to the commission. Earlier, MPs – whose approval the government needs – had turned down Kouroupi. The government stuck to its guns, insisting that no issue of ‘incompatibility of office’ exists regarding this individual.

But lawmakers on Tuesday again rejected Kouroupi’s appointment, and called on the government to nominate an alternative.

Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis, chair of the House commerce committee, said the ball is now in the government’s court. Any further delay in settling the matter would be the fault of the administration.

Time is a factor, because the new casino resort in Limassol is slated to open at the end of June. By then, the Gaming & Casino Supervision Commission must have all its members in place in order that its functions and decisions are valid.

The Commission’s members are normally seven. Three positions have opened up, as the term of these members expired on February 5.

Akel MP Costas Costa explained their objections to Kouroupi’s proposed appointment.

“You cannot have on the commission someone who is a senior cadre at a company [Hermes], at the airport of which a casino used to operate for more than a year.”

He said Kouroupi, as marketing manager at Hermes, had a direct link to tourism-related matters.

According to Costa, the issue is not one of incompatibility of office – as the government presents it – but rather one of conflict of interest.

Asked whether the back-and-forth between the government and parliament will continue, the MP merely cited the law which states the government needs the commerce committee’s approval for appointments.

“We have rejected this name [Kouroupi] twice, this can’t go on. The casino resort opens in a month-and-a-half, there has to be oversight, and right now it appears that the gaming commission, as it stands, cannot convene.”

In a statement later in the day, the government expressed disappointment at parliament’s stance. It reiterated that Kouroupi had “no direct or indirect interest in the activities of the casino resort.”

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