By Andria Kades and Elias Hazou

In a strongly worded statement, Attorney-General George Savvides said he would be referring lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou to the bar association for potential disciplinary offences, after the latter charged the legal service was corrupt all the way to the top – and may have even been bribed.

“We continue to bear witness to an ongoing unacceptable behaviour by lawyer Efstathios Efstathiou, who has repeatedly in the past few days publicly stated untrue allegations of corruption in the legal service.

“At times he suggested bribery, at other times a cover-up and criminal offences, from the top ranks of the legal service and its staffers.”


Savvides’ statements come after Efstathiou sent a 12-page letter to President Nikos Christodoulides, accusing the AG, his deputy and the legal service itself of collaborating with a billionaire Russian oligarch to allow an allegedly illegal $113.4 million deal go unpunished.

Though the AG’s office published an initial denial of any corruption claims, Savvides reacted again two days later, saying he had contacted the head of the Cyprus Bar Association and told him he would share all of Efstathiou’s public statements within the day.

“The aim is to assess whether there are grounds to refer Mr Efstathiou to the disciplinary board.”

In such a case, Savvides said he would excuse himself from any proceedings.

‘Shield of protection’

Efstathiou had claimed Russian oligarch Oleg Boyko said he spent three million in Cyprus to “sort out his case” and therefore had “nothing to be afraid of” after an arrest warrant was issued against him.

The AG dropped a criminal prosecution against Boyko citing insufficient witness material – which Efstathiou charged was an indication of corruption and the “shield of corruption” against the oligarch.

Efstathiou had also filed three separate reports to the anti-corruption authority, which in turn said it found no evidence to back his claims.

“I deny unequivocally, once again, Mr Efstathiou’s claims,” the AG reiterated.

‘Tolerance has a limit’

In his latest statement, Savvides said that during his tenure as AG he demonstrated “enormous tolerance not only for criticism in good faith, which is an essential element of a modern democracy, but also a tolerance for insinuations and comments made in bad faith.

“The statements by Mr Efstathiou for cover ups and corruption, which unfortunately are being repeated in media, have exceeded any limit of my tolerance.”

The AG said his duty is to protect the institution he served, as well as his colleagues.

“We will not allow any attempt to instrumentalise the legal service or exert pressure on its staff to serve personal, client or other schemes.”

Savvides was alluding to his allegations that Efstathiou was trying to use the letter to Christodoulides as a means to exert pressure that could pave the way for the benefit of his client.

Hitting back hard later in the day, Efstathiou accused the AG of personalising the issue, in the misguided belief that he and his office are one and the same.

“He believes his decisions, actions and omissions, and generally his conduct, are unaccountable and unchecked,” the lawyer said in a statement.

“If anyone dares question him [Savvides], that person must be punished, like primitive man used to get punished by the tribal chief for touching the totem.”

Instead of answering the questions raised in the letter, the AG “attacks the attorney of the plaintiff [Efstathiou] who is merely doing his duty representing his client as well as his duty as an officer of the court”.

Efstathiou recalled that Boyko featured on the US Treasury’s list of Russian oligarchs and political figures linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Evidently Mr Savvides could not care less if his actions risk our country being subjected to sanctions…”

On January 16 this year the attorney-general’s office suspended a private criminal lawsuit, where Boyko was accused by another Russian businessman of theft of shares through fraudulent means.

Efstathiou was acting as the attorney for the Russian businessman, named as Ilya Alekseevitch Surkov.

Both businessmen implicated in the story have made headlines across the globe.

Surkov was wanted in Russia for alleged fraud and is reported to hold a Greek passport. Though jailed in Russia, he eventually made it to the UK.

Boyko had been sanctioned by Canada and Australia following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, though Canada lifted the sanctions following a lawsuit.