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Anti-corruption authority to prioritise audit service complaints

Deputy attorney general Savvas Angelides

The island’s independent anti-corruption authority on Wednesday decided to prioritise the investigation of audit office complaints that concern two very important institutions.

Following an extraordinary meeting held in light of recent statements by the Attorney-general’s office and the audit service, the authority said there is no provision in the legislation governing its own operation that prohibits someone who makes a complaint before it from publicising the facts of the matter.

On Monday deputy attorney-general Savvas Angelides delivered a stinging verbal attack on the auditor-general, who he accused of a deliberate and concerted campaign to blacken his name, vowing that he would no longer put up with this situation.

The audit office alleged he had not pressing charges against someone who had been a client of his law firm in the past, before Angelides became deputy AG.

This allegation was forwarded to the anti-corruption authority by the audit office. It seems it was the last straw for Angelides, as the audit office has – by its own admission – relayed four complaints to the anti-corruption during the past couple of weeks.

The authority said none of its members will make any statements on the above issues, since its actions in the context of its investigations must be covered by confidentiality.

However, it noted that in the context of transparency, announcements will be issued regarding any developments in these investigations deemed important.

On Tuesday, Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides accused the audit service of engaging in character assassination and overstepping the limits of free speech, as the two offices continued to exchange barbs.

“We have a loquacious audit service, which has misunderstood the limit of freedom of speech and proceeds continuously and in a targeted way to slander and create even character and conscience assassination, we have reached the point where all institutions and my office are constantly being denounced for corruption purposes and you know very well that this has always been the policy of the audit service,” he said.

He added that the situation is disappointing and that they are always faced with two options, either answering to the allegations and being judged for creating a conflict or not answering and allowing the allegations [of the audit service] to remain unanswered.

He called on the public to realise the damage being done by the audit service, which he said makes “baseless claims that one is corrupt, the other is corrupt, the one is referred to the anti-corruption commission.”

Asked whether he is aware of the four allegations that the audit service has sent to anti-corruption authority about Angelides, Savvides said that he is not aware of what they entail except for what the audit service has said “in its many appearances in the media.”

Savvides said that it is everyone’s right to report corruption if there is a complaint.

The AG said that the anti-corruption authority in view of these problems should immediately deal with these matters, and it must do what is necessary if they find corruption.

Meanwhile, Government Spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis said the president’s office will not get involved in the spat between the attorney-general’s office and the auditor-general.

He told CyBC he called on both sides to tone down the public debate.

But he added that President Nikos Christodoulides might meet with both the auditor-general and the attorney-general separately.

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