The auditor-general will report the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation (CyBC) to the anti-corruption authority on suspicion of “abuse of power”, it emerged on Thursday.

The intention to report the CyBC came in tandem with the release of a special report on the financials of the semi-governmental organisation. In the dossier, the auditor-general contends that the CyBC irregularly upgraded several employees, in violation of a prior agreement with trade unions and also in breach of the organisation’s own budget – which is a legal document.

These employee salary upgrades, the audit office said, will cause the payroll of the CyBC to skyrocket by 33 per cent during the 2021 to 2026 period.

Effectively the audit office accuses the previous board of the CyBC of drafting temporary job descriptions for several employees. The job descriptions came with wage boosts for the affected employees. But once the wage increases kicked in, the job descriptions were ditched.

According to the government watchdog, the job descriptions aimed to unlawfully upgrade existing staff, particularly contributors on open-ended contracts who did not hold a university degree commensurate with their position or the requisite language skills in Greek or English.

In addition, the CyBC board upgraded all contributors on open-ended contracts, regardless of whether their academic qualifications were related to their job description and regardless whether they carried out the functions of the position to which they were upgraded.

Moreover, four of these contributors got bumped up to a higher wage bracket, even though Kysats – the competent body for recognising higher-education qualifications – had advised that their college degree was not recognised. For one of the four, CyBC did not even have the person’s college degree on file.

Between 2020 and 2023, the dossier stated, the CyBC continued the practice of upgrading part-time workers to contributors on open-ended contracts – in breach of the deal with the trade unions and the organisation’s budget. This concerned 21 workers.

When the new CyBC board took charge in May 2023, it cancelled the upgrades for 19 members of staff, and ordered a review of these persons’ qualifications. But, the audit office notes, the board also did not demand the return of the amounts paid to these workers while they were in the upgraded positions.

According to the findings, in 2015 CyBC employed 90 full-time employees. By 2023, that number dropped to 73. In 2015 contributors on open-ended contracts numbered 263, declining to 254 in 2023.

The CyBC’s total staff in 2015 came to 433 persons. In 2023 the number was 445.

Expenditures in 2019 tallied at €26.4 million. By 2026 these are expected to rise to €42.4 million, the audit office said.

In a statement later in the day, CyBC said the previous board had taken certain “corrective actions” after being contacted by the auditor-general.