Anyone seeking to initiate proceedings against the auditor-general in retaliation for complaints sent to the anti-corruption authority is committing a criminal offence, the service announced on Saturday.

On Friday, a ruling by the anti-corruption authority on cases filed by the audit service over complaints regarding abuse of power and conflict of interest by Deputy Attorney-General Savvas Angelides cleared him of corruption charges.

However, the fallout after the announcement resulted in another spat between the attorney-general’s office and the audit service.

On Friday, the audit service held that although Angelides was exonerated of corruption, the findings of the anti-corruption authority still showed that he had a conflict of interest in the three cases examined, while the findings also showed a need to deal with the unchecked power of the attorney-general’s office.

The cases examined by the authority dealt with several instances in which Angelides had stopped criminal proceedings for cases that involved his former law office.

Reports later surfaced that the attorney-general would seek to file a request to have Michaelides fired, something he had threatened back in October.

Commenting on this intention on Saturday, the audit service said this is “baseless” and that the attorney-general does not have this power.

Hitting back at comments by Attorney-General George Savvides and Angelides that the audit service had overstepped its constitutional boundaries by issuing a reply to the anti-corruption authority’s findings, the audit service maintained nothing is has done it outside what is prescribed in the law.

“Under the law on whistleblower protection (Law 6(I)2022), the audit service, the police, and the independent authority against corruption (hereinafter ‘the Authority’) are competent authorities as external reporting channels for filing corruption offences,” the announcement said.

The service added that the same law stipulates if a complaint reaches any of these services, which considers it is unable to investigate the matter, it can forward the complaint to the correct service.

Also, the whistleblower protection law says that the anti-corruption authority cooperate with the auditor-general to exchange information and for technical help to deal with corruption.

In one of the cases submitted to the authority for review, Angelides had allegedly 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.

In this case, the anti-corruption authority on Friday said that they would 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.

Weighing in, a report citing individuals from Katsounotos’ ‘inner circle’ said they question the trust and reliability of the anti-corruption authority.

According to Politis, issue was taken on Katsounotos’ side with the fact that his name surfaced in the investigation and that he was called to testify.

Meanwhile, his lawyers said they were surprised at the authority’s position that their client may have committed an offence by refusing to answer the questions put to him.

Katsounotos’ legal team stressed that he fully complied with the relevant provisions.

The law firm also noted that with faith in the process and the institutions of the Republic, it will respectfully await the decision of the attorney general.