A few months before leaving office, Nicos Anastasiades toured the country opening new projects, laying foundation stones and making speeches about his government’s contribution to different towns and communities. This was not the only thing he did to establish his legacy. He also asked Disy to publicly defend his government’s achievements when these were questioned, attacked or disparaged by his political foes. Sometimes, he did this himself, unable to tolerate the ingratitude he was shown by some.

In fairness, in his first term he successfully navigated the country through the difficult waters of the bailout, a collapse of the economy and the banking sector and an assistance programme, laying the foundations for recovery that arrived sooner than it was reasonable to expect. Apart from spurning the best opportunity for a settlement of the Cyprus problem, his legacy will also be tarnished by several major scandals that have been exposed after he left office and the Christodoulides government must now deal with.

After the report of the audit office about the host of illegalities that allowed the operation of the fish farm in Trimiklini, to which the authorities turned a blind eye for years, a new scandal surfaced on Friday. The audit office released a 150-page report about the contract for the creation of an LNG terminal at Vassiliko, which should have been completed two years ago, but is still nowhere near completion. The report described the overall management of the project as “tragic”, estimating that so far it had cost the taxpayer €542 million excluding VAT.

The contract was signed in December 2019 and the contractor has so far submitted four delivery timetables – September 2022, July 2023, October 2023, July 2024 – with serious doubts in government circles that the project will be completed in July, as the vessel that would convert the LNG and pump gas to power stations is still in dry dock in Shanghai. An additional €25 million, meanwhile, was paid to the contractor for increased costs after he threatened to quit although, according to the audit office, there was no such provision in the contract, while no compensation was sought by Etyfa (the Defa subsidiary in charge of the project) for the delays.

Best practices were not followed in procedures for awarding the project, with all bidders apart from the winning consortium excluded from the evaluation stage of the tenders, the report said. That the only tenderer at the final stage was a consortium led by a company that had never undertaken such a project was astonishing and an explanation for the long delays. The audit office said it intended to report the Republic to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office as the EU provided part of the project’s funding.

Meanwhile last month the government pulled the plug on another project that was sanctioned by Anastasiades personally and proved an unmitigated disaster – the waste treatment plant in Pentakomo. In December the government wrote to companies running the plant ordering them to vacate the premises in 14 days. The companies had no past experience in waste treatment but were given the contract, against the advice of the EU, because they made the lowest bid. The plant was created so the Limassol district would stop using landfills for household waste, as per EU directives. The treated waste, however, is still being buried because the secondary fuel the plant produces is so poor there are no takers, even for free.

As this project was also funded by the EU, the risk now is that Brussels could demand the return of its grant as the results for which it was given were never delivered. Should the audit office not be investigating this scandal, which could cost the taxpayer in excess of €100m if the EU seeks the return of its grant? For some reason, this scandal has been completely ignored by the audit office, for no obvious reason.

If the audit office is not interested in looking into the matter, the government must order an in-depth investigation of the Pentakomo fiasco (an enquiry carried out by the Anastasiades government was a whitewash) to establish who was responsible. As in the case of the fish farm and the LNG terminal, officials signed off on these costly blunders. They may have had orders from above, but the public has a right to know because it is the taxpayer that is picking up the bill for these dubious government decisions. In the case of the fish farm, local communities have suffered the consequences of the state-blessed illegalities.

All these costly failures are the legacy of Nicos Anastasiades, and people need to know how involved the former president was in the decision-making that was rarely in the public interest. President Nikos Christodoulides, to his credit, did not allow the Pentakomo fiasco to continue, as his predecessor had done. Now he must take the next step of establishing who was responsible and show that there is no impunity for those who put other interests above those of the public. There is no other way of stopping the abuses of power that cost the taxpayer so much.