The biggest problem plaguing the legal service has been the attacks from the Audit Office, Attorney-General George Savvides told the Supreme Constitutional Court on Friday, on his third and last day under cross-examination.

In a hearing marked with heavy allegations yet again, Savvides said he was well aware of how many cases of corruption exist. “I myself am not corrupt,” he stressed.

The court was convening over the case put forth by Savvides seeking to have Auditor-General Odysseas Michaelides dismissed on the grounds of inappropriate conduct.

Cross examined by one of Michaelides’ lawyers Christos Clerides, the AG said it was “about time” he moved to have the Auditor-General dismissed because the ongoing clash between the two institutions “is doing harm to the country.”

“We’re creating an impression to the public that there’s corruption everywhere. I personally am not corrupt, no matter how badly the Auditor-General tries to portray me in that way. I know how many cases of corruption exist. There is corruption, but I am not corrupt.”

Clerides’ line of questioning appeared to aim to portray an AG that deliberately sought to scupper Michaelides’ efforts to carry out investigations in a bid to coverup for other top officials.

Savvides rejected all such accusations, including a high-profile one over the national guard. The auditor-general had prepared a report last year that said the number of conscripts in the national guard taking up cushy ‘coffee making’ posts increased when the deputy AG Savvas Angelides served as defence minister.

The allegation was that Angelides’ best man’s son was one of the lucky individuals who got to only make coffee, as was the son of another minister.

Savvides had refused to begin criminal prosecutions against the defence minister at the time and national guard chief, which Clerides tried to suggest was part of the AG’s effort to help a coverup and halt the investigation.

The AG rejected the argument, highlighting it was not up for the Audit Office to tell the legal service what legal recourse it should take.

“I serve a post whose aim is not to be popular. Very often I am called to make decisions which will not satisfy large swathes of the population and God forbid if I would be affected by whether this made me likeable or not,” Savvides said.

“At the same time, I have identified that the Auditor General takes advantage of the anger of the public over everything happening around us, and interferes, targets, identifies with the majority, and tries to prove he is ‘one of the people’.”

Clerides put to the AG that he saw Michaelidies as a nuisance to the legal service that had to be removed no matter what.

“What you describe as dishonest spoiled your soup, because he became a nuisance, he had to be removed at all costs.”

Savvides retorted with “should I tell you I don’t eat soup? I don’t like them. I prefer meat. My position is that I made an institutional decision based on what I perceive to be in the best public interest.

The other can of worms which opened during the hearing was the in-fighting which emerged in 2023 over two contracts the finance ministry had signed with consultancy firms.

Michaelides had argued due process had not been followed, which went against the legal opinion Savvides had given the finance ministry.

“The auditor-general disagreed with the opinions and then what did he do? He reported his country, the AG of his country to the EU and requested infringement proceedings because he deemed that the opinions were not correct.”

Clerides sought to argue that Michaelides did well in trying to highlight illegalities of the state, to which Savvides retorted that this is precisely the crux of the issue – it is the AG’s task to determine what is legal or not.

The Audit Office oversteps its constitutional boundaries when it hands out legal advice. It is outside its remit when it doubts legal advice of the constitutional legal adviser of the state.”

As the hearing came to a close, President of the Supreme Constitutional Court Antonis Liatsos said the case should come to a close by July 19.

Next to take the stand will be a representative from the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (Intosai) on June 27. Michaelides is expected to appear as witness starting July 1.

A day earlier, Savvides told court he did not have it in for Michaelides, and even though he had been instructed twice by the president to have him dismissed, did not do so.