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Taxpayers funding president’s children’s transport ‘a warped view’

audit office

The idea that the police, at the expense of taxpayers’ money, is under obligation to undertake the parental care of the president’s children is “a warped view”, the audit service said on Saturday.

The service’s statements are the latest episode in an ongoing spat between the government and the audit service regarding, among other disputes, the use of service vehicles to transport President Nikos Christodoulides’ children.

“This proves that the problem is deeper, and explains the relentless – to the extent that it has become offensive – attacks by representatives of the government against the auditor-general,” they said.

“If safety reasons dictate that the car must be driven by a police officer, we will not intervene. Exactly the same is done with other political leaders. However, the car and related costs are borne by the leaders themselves,” they said.

They added that auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides had discussed the matter with Christodoulides privately but “without result”.

“In general, when we uncover something, it is recorded in a relevant report even if in the meantime corrective measures are taken by the auditee. As an exception, in this particular case, and realising the sensitivity of the matter, we had explained that if they stopped committing the crime in question, we would not disclose it,” they said.

“This is an ongoing crime, it cannot be covered up at all.”

The audit service had received reports in August that two police cars had been “illegally” used to transport Christodoulides’ children, and subsequently forwarded on to the chief of police.

They said that police had responded, “admitting the complaint was factual and invoking a specific police order which, according to the police, was sufficient to justify a violation of the relevant law”.

However, they said, “the police, in a way which bordered on misleading, referred us to a court decision to substantiate their claim, at a time when, as we found, that particular decision had been overturned on appeal.”

The report which included details of transport used by Christodoulides’ children was released on Thursday.

The audit service had said “it is clear that whatever security reasons are put forward cannot result in individuals being transported at the expense of the state. We have indicated that, in our opinion, the transportation of the children of the President of the Republic in an official car is illegal and constitutes an abuse of power.”

Commenting on the report to Ant1 television on Thursday, audit service spokesman Marios Petrides said Christodoulides can transport his children by himself, using either his own vehicle or his service vehicle.

He added that a security officer could accompany them, but the president or first lady would have to be present in the vehicle as well.

The police had hit back the same day, saying they had the right to offer such dispensation for safety purposes.

They added that “in no case … is there any abuse of power.”

 

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