Deputy Attorney-General Savvas Angelides stated on Friday that the anti-corruption authority’s decision to exonerate him of corruption charges partially mitigates the personal humiliation he endured. Simultaneously, the audit service, which initially brought the allegations against him to the authority, maintained that the findings still indicated a conflict of interest.

Attorney-General George Savvides welcomed the anti-corruption authority’s findings that cleared Angelides of corruption allegations.

Earlier on Friday, the authority announced the absence of corruption on Angelides’ part in three cases forwarded by the audit office. They further noted agreement with the findings of a team of foreign experts from the UK who examined the three allegations.

In an afternoon statement, Angelides remarked, “The decision of the independent anti-corruption authority, finding no corruption offense, brings partial relief and satisfaction for the vilification the institution [the legal service] has gone through and the personal humiliation I endured, which lacked substance after anonymous complaints with various motives were filed.”

However, both Angelides and the attorney-general’s office refrained from commenting on the audit service’s statement issued immediately after the findings.

Angelides added, “My dignity does not allow me to respond at this stage to the auditor-general’s statement, which, in any case, once again, contains a whole host of violations of constitutional rights, legislative provisions, as well as character assassination.”

In their statement, the audit service expressed appreciation for the anti-corruption authority’s report and findings, asserting that they confirm a conflict of interest and emphasise the need to address the lack of oversight for the legal service.

The audit service highlighted that the findings confirmed Angelides’ previous role as personal counsel for an individual charged with a serious felony.

The service noted, “It is particularly significant that this person’s name is rare and far from commonplace. The deputy attorney-general suspended the prosecution of this person because, he claimed, he did not realise that it was his former client.”

In the announcement, the audit service added that there was a conflict of interest in this case, but that the authority failed to gather sufficient evidence for corruption offences.

“We have no reason to question this conclusion. However, even if one adopts the position that there is insufficient evidence to initiate an investigation into criminal offences, this – with all due respect to the presumption of innocence – does not exclude the possibility of an abuse of power that simply could not be established,” the service said.

The audit office added that, in any event, the facts reasonably demonstrate the non-serious and unsubstantiated way in which suspensions of criminal proceedings are decided.

Allegedly, Angelides had served as the attorney for someone who was a ‘person of interest’ for the police’s drug squad. In 2022 Angelides stayed a prosecution against this person. The name of drug squad chief Michalis Katsounotos was mentioned in this context.

This may be linked to the affair where the attorney-general’s office decided against bringing charges against Katsounotos, whom the former prisons director Anna Aristotelous accused of spying on her and trying to frame her.

Subsequently the attorney-general’s office also refused to give the green light to two private criminal prosecutions which Aristotelous’ lawyers wanted to file against Katsounotos.

Commenting further in their response, the audit service said that there are another three cases with the anti-corruption authority, which involve the suspension of criminal proceedings.

The first concerns allegations in relation to the conduct of Angelides in the black van wiretapping case and again relates to conflict-of-interest issues.

The second relates to the investigation of serious tax issues of a company, which belongs to people exercising public influence. This case is an audit finding of the service and was incidentally identified in the context of audits for the Cyprus Investment Programme.

“We consider the matter to be very serious because the end result of the manipulations was to prevent the tax authorities from auditing the company. The same company was also the subject of our very serious findings in relation to the Cyprus investment programme, which the legal service did not find it necessary to investigate.”

The third case still in front of the anti-corruption authority concerns the prosecution of five individuals accused of the offences of conspiracy to commit a felony, keeping false accounts, theft from a director and money laundering, all in the context of a public contract and to the detriment of the public finances. The defendants, eight initially, applied to the court for a stay of proceedings and their acquittal. In March 2021 the court granted the request of two (they had previously been convicted in another, similar case) but rejected the request of the other six. After this, one of the six pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

“Three months later, in June 2021, before the ink on the judge’s pen could dry, the deputy attorney-general suspended the prosecution of the other five, acting contrary to the court’s will to hear the case. The brother of one of the five is a well-known lawyer,” the service said.

Earlier, the anti-corruption authority announced that there is no corruption on the part of Angelides over three cases forwarded to the authority by the audit office over potential conflict of interest.

The authority added that following their meeting, they have also agreed with the findings by a team of foreign experts from the UK that examined the three allegations against Angelides.

According to the authority, there was also no corruption found for the police officer referred to in the third complaint either.

However, the authority will forward to the attorney-general a recommendation for criminal prosecution of the officer regarding his refusal to answer questions imposed on him by the investigating officers.

The findings also noted the absence of a statutory procedure for conflict of interest.