The cross examination of Attorney-General George Savvides became heated on Thursday before the Supreme Constitutional Court, as accusations of ineptitude and inappropriate conduct were flung about rampantly in raised tones.

This was the second day Savvides took the stand for the case seeking to have Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides dismissed on the grounds of inappropriate conduct.

Golden passports, allegations of conflict of interests, and accusations that Michaelides “thinks he’s the only honourable official,” were thrown back and forth in a four-hour court hearing.

“I have never seen a politician, or even an actor, appear on TV as much as the audit office spokesman,” the AG charged. He underlined that the auditor-general chose to take any issues public, putting the legal service in a situation where if they responded, articles of a clash would appear all over the media.

“If we didn’t come out publicly, which as a rule we didn’t, then the publicity against us went unchallenged.”

Savvides rejected outright the accusation that he ‘had it in’ for Michaelides since day one, telling the court that during his term “I had instructions from the president to have the auditor-general dismissed and I did not act on it.”

He did not specify whether he meant President Nikos Christodoulides or his predecessor Nicos Anastasiades. The former has publicly stated he did not wish to see this process unfold in court.

Savvides told court the auditor-general was “manic” in his persistence in trying to prove to the world that he is the only state official of good standing. 

“Michaelides thinks he’s the only honourable person and he can hand out certificates of good standing to people.”

Savvides pointed to the bundle of evidence and said “these 1,130 pages of evidence were things we were bottling up for four years.”

The line of questioning came from one of Michaelides’ lawyers Christos Clerides.

Savvides called the auditor-general a person “that targets with utmost ease people that do not stand before him” like soldiers reporting for duty.

Clerides hit back with what he described as a summary of Savvides’ characterisation of Michaelidies as expressed in the application before court.

The AG has called the auditor-general dishonest, undignified, insolent, arrogant, only concerned with to promoting himself and carrying out character assassinations, according to Clerides.

“If I said these things about any independent official I would lose my licence. If I said them about a judge I would be sent to jail,” Clerides told the panel of eight judges.

“I submit to you [the AG] that all these characterizations reveal you are obsessively and manically opposed to the auditor-general.”

Golden passports took centre stage for a second day of questioning, as Clerides grilled Savvides over the fate of the investigations. 

Clerides told the court that the auditor-general prepared a total of five reports on the ‘golden passports’. However, it was only the last one that Savvides sent to police to investigate. 

Savvides was furious with the implication that he was a minister at the time and therefore part of cabinet’s decision-making process to grant passports related to the casino and Ayia Napa marina.

“Is the suggestion that I hid the report to cover up for myself? This is extremely serious.

It is a huge offence to even suggest that I did not carry out my duty for a criminal case.” 

Savvides explained that both he and Michaelides had previously agreed that anything the auditor-general had on hand over the golden passports would be handed to the Nicolatos investigative committee – the group set up to investigate the now defunct citizenship-by-investment scheme. 

As such, Savvides felt no need to send any of the first four reports to police because the agreement was the Nicolatos committee would have access to them, as that was the investigative body for the case at the time.

The final (fifth) report which referenced the previous four was duly filed to the police, Savvides underlined.

Seeking to provide an example of Michaelides’ “misinformation” to the media, Savvides responded to questions surrounding the case of Volunteerism Commissioner Yiannis Yiannaki.

The official is now facing charges in connection to his qualifications that appeared to be tampered.

According to Savvides, the auditor-general called Yiannaki on loudspeaker in the presence of one other colleague to begin asking him for statements.

“This was handled completely wrong,” and could very well jeopardise any criminal investigation, the AG stressed.

When the deputy AG wrote to Michaelides to explain this and urge him not to use the same method again, this was presented largely differently to the media, as part of the legal service’s efforts to meddle in his work, he said.

Savvides will take the stand for a third day on Friday starting at 9.30am.