IN the summer of 2007, during the golden rule of Ethnarch Tassos, a journalist revealed that the companies that were bidding for the importation of natural gas to Cyprus were closely linked to the Tassos Papadopoulos law office.

There were several denials, but documents were presented to substantiate the claims which were backed by a former partner of the law office, who confirmed that Junior was dealing with these companies until the story broke.

In October of that year, then leader of Disy, Nicos Anstasiades, made public several documents which claimed Junior was offering legal services to two bidding companies, which were linked to a company controlled by the law office. He also outlined the benefits of securing the project. After releasing the documents, Anastasiades described the goings-on as “the scandal of the century”.

He was not to know in 2007, that 12 years later he would have been responsible for an LNG deal that would stake an infinitely more convincing claim for “scandal of the century”. At least so far, because there are another 75 years of the century remaining, and it is not beyond the realms of the possible that a future politician will take this coveted award.

FOR NOW, the award belongs to Nik I who in November 2019 ordered the public gas company Defa to sign a 20-year contract for the supply of LNG that would cost half a billion euros with China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering company (CPP), after a sham tenders’ procedure in which two of the three bidders were excluded for compliance reasons.

Scandal-buster Nik took the personal decision to give the project of building a LNG terminal in Vasiliko and setting up a Floating, Storage, Regasification Unit (FSRU) without competitive bidding, to a company that had never undertaken such work before. And we will have to buy LNG from CPP for 20 years, even though we could bring natural gas from our own fields in five or 10.

Industry insiders, quoted in an article that appeared in the French paper Liberation in 2020, described the contract as “grotesque” and as “a financial and ethical scandal”. The paper also wrote that the cost for the FSRU – purchase of LNG carrier and its conversion – would cost about €200m which was a meagre €100m more than the normal market price.

The crafty Nik, however, always focused on the positive, crediting his presidency with the biggest infrastructure project in the Republic’s history.

ONLY NOW, the biggest infrastructure project in our history is turning into one of the biggest cock-ups, its completion date being repeatedly put back (so far we are looking at two years’ delay) the cost rising (by €42m so far), work at the terminal suspended, the FSRU still in Shanghai and the company submitting a statement of claim at the arbitration court in London for a reported €200m.

And to make matters worse, the meddlesome Odysseas is onto the matter. He put together a 150-page report, which described the whole affair as “tragic”, and deputies discussed it at House committee on Thursday. Odysseas has also threatened to report the Republic to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office as the European Commission had contributed €100m to the project.

Nik must be feeling the heat but has avoided saying anything about his role in the biggest scandal of the century. Instead, he got the feeble Disy deputy Savia Orphanidou to defend the indefensible as it seems nobody else was willing to stick their neck out for him.

She accused Odysseas of giving ammunition to the CPP for its statement of claim against the Republic, saying the claims were not substantiated. She was repeating what she was told to say, because the claims were pretty substantiated.

WILL THERE be an investigation, Energy Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou was asked on Trito on Friday. He could not say, but if there is one scam that should reported to the authority against corruption it is this.

The authority could focus on this when it finishes investigating the corruption allegations made against the unblemished Nik in Makarios Drousiotis’ book. The authority could soon be renamed the Anastasiades investigating committee, as the former prez could provide it with shady dealings to investigate for the next 10 years.

We should give credit to his protégé and successor, Nik II, no matter how painful this may be, as he has not only been cleaning up the messes left behind by his mentor, he has also been ordering investigations. He sent the cops to the Trimiklini fish farm and ordered an investigation, and he revoked the passport of the international fraudster, Jho Low, which his mentor obdurately refused to do.

Most importantly he ordered the closing of the Pentakomo waste treatment plant, another monumental scandal with Nik I’s fingerprints all over it. He had given the contract to companies that had zero experience in waste treatment, against all advice. This was one more scandal of his otherwise unblemished presidency.

THE SUCCESSOR must be feeling nostalgic for the election campaign, when he toured the country talking endlessly about how he would make Kyproulla paradise on earth.

There is no other way to explain his mind-numbingly boring televised presentation about his government’s ‘policies and actions’ for 2024. The “choice of this moment in time is of course substantive,” he said in his inimitable verbosity, because “at the start of the year we brief society, the members of the legislative authority, the representatives of the social partners and the productive forces about our basic priorities.”

Society did not want to be briefed as the piss-poor TV ratings proved, and I am certain neither did the ambassadors who were invited and had to endure this bore-fest in a packed auditorium of the presidential palace.

THE CyBC board, in show of untypical boldness, actually punished an employee who had posted insulting comments on Facebook about a female college and her alleged links with a member of the board.

Savvas Aristodimou, a senior employee was demoted to a lower pay grade and fined three months’ salary, an unprecedented punishment in the public parasite sector where workers are usually untouchable.

This was the second disciplinary investigation against Aristodimou. The previous one, a few years ago, should have led to his sacking but was filed away because the board was too scared to take action against him – he was the boss of one of the CyBC unions, which gave him impunity.

There will no doubt be an appeal against the punishment at the administrative court and Aristodimou has also reported his punishment to the audit office, hoping that his friend and protector Odysseas, as Kyproulla overlord, will come to his rescue.

THE standing of upright lawyer and former Diko lawyer, Andreas Angelides suffered a bit of a blow after Dr Theano Kalavana (not a medic but another of those sad creatures that feel the need to remind everyone that she has a PhD) put a post on ‘X’ about his shabby behaviour.

Just before Christmas as she was driving, he had overtaken her on the inside and smashed her wing mirror. She caught up with him at the traffic lights he told her he would inform his insurance company to pay for the damage.

Two months later, Dr Kalavana, in a direct appeal to him, said he had still not informed his insurance company “which is General Insurance and not CNP as you had said.”

SPEAKING of lawyers, well-known Nicosia attorney and former Edek deputy, Efstathios Efstathiou, who is getting on in years, appears to have lost the plot. He has been accusing the attorney-general of corruption because the latter had stopped his private criminal prosecution against a Russian billionaire. Efstathiou’s client, another Russian, was demanding €110m from him.

Giorgos Savvides was probably right to do so as the dispute had been tried in Cyprus courts and the claimant lost. This did not stop Efstathios from accusing Savvides of corruption and alleging that there had been a €3m payoff of individuals in the Legal Service. This was based on hearsay, and he could not name any bribe recipient.

Meanwhile the law firm that bears Efstathiou’s name must have put him out to pasture, because he is nowhere to be seen among the ‘Top management, Barristers, Associate Members’ on the firm’s website. There are two Efstathios Efstathiou, who from their pictures are too young to be him and are probably his grandsons and an Aspasia Efstathiou who is not him either.

THIS TIRESOME discussion about crowd trouble at football matches continued at the House legal affairs committee on Wednesday. The government bill had a provision for alcohol and drug testing of people entering football grounds, but some deputies considered it outrageous that those who tested positive would be allowed to walk free after being refused entry. Some of our lawmakers are unaware that it is not a crime to walk around drunk or stoned. Or was the thinking that they should be arrested charged for potentially causing trouble outside the ground?

PREZ NIK appears to have dropped his favourite phrase ‘added value’ from his speeches because he has found a new one ‘horizontal’. Everything he does is now horizontal. In Monday’s presentation, he said he did not view “the digital transformation of the country, as a means for the creation of modern, effective and friendly to the citizen state, as an abstract concept, but as a horizontal action.”

On Friday, launching his National Strategy for Gender Equality, he said “the horizontal implementation of the dimension of gender…” All that remains is for a horizontal settlement of the Cyprob.