The eagerly-awaited investigation into the allegations of corruption against Deputy Attorney-General Savvas Angelides found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing such as abuse of power on his part. A summary of the findings by three investigators hired to look into the allegations was released on Friday by the Independent Authority Against Corruption which concluded there was no possibility of any corruption offence being committed in any of the three cases investigated, either by the deputy AG or a senior police officer.

Although no criminal offence had been committed and the public fuss made by the auditor-general prior to the investigation was excessive, the findings raised issues that should be addressed. For example, the law does not consider abuse of power without personal profit for the perpetrator a criminal offence. It is a misdemeanour, according to the law, and only a criminal offence when there is personal gain, hence the maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment for the first and seven for the latter.

The investigators found this an absurd distinction and said so in their report. “To this extent, we disagree with any suggestion that an abuse can only arise if and only when one profits from an act. That, in our view, would make a mockery of the European law on corruption intended,” they said. As there was no profit from the suspension of the prosecution signed off by the deputy AG, no criminal offence had been committed, although there had been conflict of interest, for which there were no clear regulations.

Investigators expressed “concern” for the non-existence of an established procedure for identifying conflict of interest, saying that under the current regime it was left exclusively to the official to decide if it existed, which was not satisfactory. It is incredible that in the state sector there are no regulations defining conflict of interest as there are in professional associations. That Angelides could sign off a suspension of the prosecution a man that had been a client of his when he had a private law practice was incredible.

What was even more incredible was his assurance to the investigators that it did not occur to him that the man had been a client of his. Does the AG’s office not examine a case before signing a suspension of prosecution? He just signed it because, as he said, a specific police department had asked him to do so? There was a glaring conflict of interest in this case but because this does not constitute a criminal offence no further action would be taken. That Angelides had no qualms about signing the suspension of a former client demonstrated the legally protected lack of accountability of the AG and his deputy. They can take these decisions without any legal obligation to justify them so even if there was conflict of interest it was not an issue in the eyes of the law.

No criminal offence was committed by the deputy AG but he did not exactly inspire confidence with the way he had acted. We do not know whose responsibility it is to fix these weaknesses in the system but they are certainly in need of fixing.