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AG mulls auditor-general’s suspension over role concerns (Updated)

Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides
Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides

Attorney-general George Savvides is considering filing a request to have auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides suspended, with the former considering that the latter is operating outside what the constitution of Cpyrus prescribes to be his role.

Speaking to CyBC late on Thursday, Savvides said that the country has seen a number of scandals, and the public has become mistrustful of institutions. He added that the government needs to work for the institutions to gain the public’s trust.

He called on Michaelides to stick to his mandate as per the constitution of the country, saying that it is not within the remit of the auditor-general to examine criminal cases, or cases where he may determine criminality.

In these cases, Savvides said that Michaelides should be instead referring the cases to his office, and when the officer of the attorney-general’s office has made their report, the case will proceed further.

Savvides mused: “Is it the mission of the auditor-general’s office to act as the messenger of complaints?”

He said that when someone, in this case the auditor-general, decides to file a complaint with the anti-corruption authority, the entity must take on responsibility of all that is claimed.

In an immediate reaction, Michaelides said that he was unpleasantly surprised by Savvides’ intention to submit a case requesting his suspension with the supreme court.

Michaelides also cast doubt on the matter of Savvides initiating such a procedure, saying that only the president has the authority to request his suspension.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Michaelides stated that he forwarded six cases to the anti-corruption authority, because he is of the opinion that there are issues to be investigated, without any accusation being made against any person.

The cases concern, among others, the Israeli spy van, matters of state contracts, the suspension of criminal prosecution for tax matters, and withdrawal from the court of a case of fraud against the state.

Commenting on the position of the attorney-general that the audit service should not act as a postman, Michaelides wondered whether he should not deal with these cases so that they end up in the waste basket.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, Michaelides said that Savvides’ statements “touch the limits of intimidation.”

Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA), Michaelides said that Savvides’ statements are completely unacceptable.

“We reject them [Savvides’ statements] and consider them completely unacceptable. The false reports of the attorney-general, allegedly claiming that he has such authority, touch the limits of intimidation. I am of the opinion that the attorney-general does not exercise disciplinary control over the auditor-general,” he said.

Michaelides said that the audit service will immediately inform the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) about the recent unacceptable statement of the attorney-general, since as he said, “it is a classic case of an attempt to intimidate him head of the audit service, which expressly violates the second pillar of the independence principles of Mexico,” which concerns the non-intimidation of the head of the audit service.

Responding to a related question, Michaelides said that “it is with surprise that I heard yesterday the attorney-general criminalising and essentially making the transmission of complaints to the anti-corruption authority appear damning.”

Asked to report on the substance of the case, he explained that the audit service had before its anonymous complaints, which related to suspensions of criminal prosecutions of the criminal code, to note that the attorney-general with his false statements “essentially and literally said that the audit office should not have forwarded these complaints to the anti-corruption authority.”

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