The Audit Office on Monday moved to report the Legal Service to the European Commission and the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (Intosai) amid allegations of threats, revenge, and efforts to remove the auditor-general from his post.

It comes on the heels of a major explosion between the two independent institutions, after deputy attorney-general Savvas Angelides said that auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides should be investigated and the Supreme Court should rule whether he should be removed from his post.

Angelides said Michaelides lacks objectivity, self-control and deliberately targets certain institutions and officials, in an interview to Kathimerini published on Sunday.

President Nikos Christodoulides entered the foray on Monday saying he has no plan to suspend the auditor-general in any capacity, nor is he going to tell the independent official what to do.

Christodoulides said what was happening between the legal and audit service is “very unpleasant”, urging them to cooperate based on the constitution.

“At present I do not wish to say any more. It is a very unpleasant development, and these are not my own emotions, they are also those of the Cypriot people.”

His statements struck a cord with the Audit Office, which said if Christodoulides finds this unpleasant “imagine how we feel, that efforts are underway to dismiss the head of our office.”

Meanwhile, Audit Office spokesman Marios Petrides stressed the attorney-general did not have the remit to get Michaelides fired.

“Only the president can do so.”

The Legal Service told the Cyprus Mail it did not have anything more to say on the matter.

The report filed to Intosai and the EU Commission was based on Principle 2 of the Mexico Declaration centring on the independence of Supreme Audit Institution heads and members, including security of tenure and legal immunity.

“They want to fire the auditor-general because he does his job,” Petrides highlighted.

He stressed the audit office would file a pre-trial objection should the Legal Service take up the matter to the Supreme Court.

On the question of what constitutes as ‘inappropriate behaviour’ that Michaelides stands accused of, Petrides read out an excerpt from a former Supreme Court decision that got former deputy AG Rikkos Erotocritou fired.

He said the behaviour must be “so bad, that he is unable to carry out his duties”.

Deputy government spokesman Yiannis Antoniou described the issue as “purely legal and not political”.

The Audit Office described Angelides’ statements as an act of revenge because Michaelides highlighted alleged actions by Angelides to acquit a client of his former law firm from criminal prosecution.

Petrides said the attorney-general and his deputy were making plans to get rid of Michaelides “for revenge”.

This is a threat that was expressed by the attorney-general himself months ago, specifically on September 7,” Petrides said, adding that the retaliation was coming in the wake of the Audit Office highlighting alleged actions by the deputy AG to acquit a client of his former law firm from criminal prosecution.

“Promoting retaliation against persons who make complaints to the Anti Corruption Authority constitutes a criminal offence,” Petrides added. He said it had already been established that the auditor-general had presented the complaint to the authority in good faith.

Weighing in on the debate, lawyer Achilles Emilianides said the decision on whether proceedings would begin to fire someone from an institution such as the Audit Office, would be taken by what is usually called ‘the board’.

This is made up of Supreme Court judges.

Emilianides underlined the constitution is not clear as to who can begin the motion to get an independent official fired. “Certainly, this is a person appointed by the president. As such, that would be the person to fire them.”

Ultimately, Christodoulides does not have the authority to get Michaelides fired independently, and would require the ‘the board’ to opine.