The government’s contract with Opap Cyprus, providing for €447 million income over 15 years, is satisfactory and to the benefit of the republic, the finance ministry said on Tuesday, while the auditor general described it as one-sided as it should be worth almost twice as much.

The deal was discussed at the House audit committee, where a clash of interest was also raised with the appointment of a relative of the president to the organisation’s board.

Auditor general Odysseas Michaelides said it was scandalous that the contract should have been signed in 2018, was not and was now being renewed.

He also said income should have been near €700 million and that the contract was one-sidedly in favour of Opap Cyprus.

Michaelides said his service could not impose its views on the finance ministry, however if the contract went through in its current form, the auditor’s office would appeal on the grounds of being to the detriment of the state and constituting illegal state aid.

He furthermore referred to a clause allowing Opap not to pay what it owed to the republic in certain cases, for which the auditor general raised objections, but the government went ahead anyway.

Referring to retained profits, Michaelides said they reached €17 million in 2006-2022, with €9 million being earmarked for projects in 2013-2022.

Finance ministry general director George Panteli said the contract had been negotiated by a coordinating committee and that the whole procedure was based point by point on the law passed by the House.

The same procedure was followed in Greece for Opap Greece, he added, which the Commission had advised the Republic of Cyprus to do as well.

Panteli pointed out that the deal was not one-sided and was an improvement on the previous one.

Commenting on the auditor general’s position, Panteli said “everyone can believe whatever they want.”