By Nikolaos Prakas and Iole Damaskinos
Former president Nicos Anastasiades on Friday expressed his satisfaction with the announcement that the anti-corruption authority is looking into allegations made in the book ‘Mafia State’ by Makarios Drousiotis.
In a written statement, Anastasiades said: “With particular satisfaction, I heard this morning the Anti-Corruption Commissioner, Mr Harris Poyiadjis, confirming that the process of investigation into the content of Mr Makarios Drousiotis’ book ‘Mafia State’ has actually been activated.”
Anastasiades also reiterated that in November last year he sent a letter to the anti-corruption authority to speed-up investigation into the claims in the book.
“Respecting the laws and the procedures of an ongoing investigation, I consciously avoid making statements in what some people obsessively and deliberately project every day, in order to consolidate as true what is maliciously and slanderously contained in the book in question,” he said.
He added that it was his duty to also provide material evidence so that the authority can draw its own conclusions.
“I want to point out once again that I reserve all my legal rights to take legal action against those who have made, are making or adopt similar defamatory claims,” he said.
The anti-corruption authority was set up a year and a half ago to investigate corruption cases involving current or former state officials and civil servants, and is also poised to tackle claims publicised in Makarios Drousiotis’ book Mafia State which, among others point a finger at Anastasiades.
Speaking to CyBC on Friday, Poyiadjis gave an update on the status of the investigation by the anti-corruption authority.
Launching into the status of the corruption claims investigation, Poyiadjis said the authority currently has before it about 140 complaints, roughly 80 named and 40 anonymous. Thirty claims have been handled and five investigations are underway.
“Not one complaint will remain,” Poyiadjis assured, adding that the large volume made the process challenging and time-consuming. However, all the groundwork has not been completed and “we hope in the next phase that all the claims will be processed,” he said.
Of the 30 claims handled, around 20 had been rejected as they were not deemed substantial, Poyiadjis noted.
Investigations are about to conclude in a case being investigated by a Cypriot official and two British experts, who are looking into ‘golden passport’ allegations against deputy attorney general Savvas Angelides – as raised by the auditor-general. The findings of this investigation are expected within the next several days, the commissioner said.
Other cases given priority are those brought by Akel MP Christos Christophides over claims involving Disy receiving party donations also related to golden passports, as well as claims revealed in Mafia State.
Addressing criticism of delay in the investigation levied by Christophides recently, the commissioner denied any intention to drag out the process, and attributed the slow pace to the fact that the authority was newly appointed and, therefore, securing documentation took time.
In the case of the Mafia Sate allegations an ex officio investigation will be undertaken, Poyiadjis said.
“We met with Mr Drousiotis and his lawyer and reached a unanimous agreement on which matters can be investigated,” the commissioner said, adding that certain matters were beyond the authority’s remit in terms of obtaining documents and information.
“Soon the terms of the assignment for the officials to be appointed will be determined,” he added.
According to Poyiadjis the author of the expose was “completely understanding” about the need to delineate the scope of the claims-which were copious.
“Both incidents as well as individuals will be investigated to determine whether their actions constituted corruption. It is no secret that Mr Drousiotis assigned many responsibilities to [ex-president Anastasiades] and this will be investigated,” he said.
Regarding ‘golden passport’ cases, Poyiadjis noted that they could not be legally investigated concurrently with one already underway by the legal services.
In closing, the commissioner addressed public trepidation about the authority’s objectivity and its capacity to fulfill the weight of its duties.
Members of the authority had been appointed by the former president, who had selected five from a list of 15 drawn up by an advisory council.
“It is my opinion that we have thoroughly capable individuals [to investigate] but we prefer to find foreigners who have nothing to do with Cyprus,” he said.
“I believe [investigation outcomes by foreigners] will be received as more objective,” the commissioner concluded.