Corruption levels in Cyprus “inconceivable”, according to senior officials

The level of corruption in Cyprus is inconceivable and the phenomenon still reigns, despite recent blows, speakers at a seminar on corruption said on Monday.

The seminar, organized in Nicosia by the Ministry of Justice and the University of Nicosia, was addressed by Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou, Attorney General Costas Clerides and Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, among others. All agreed that there must be zero tolerance towards corruption.

Nicolaou said in particular that the government is contemplating the drafting of a single bill to deal with corruption matters. Currently, the issue is being tackled by 24 different laws and implementation is difficult, he added.

He said moreover that the number of corruption cases under investigation has more than doubled since 2014. The Minister cited police data showing that in 2016 a 177 cases were reported and 169 were solved. In 2017, until today, from a total of 162 cases, 149 were solved, Nicolaou added.

Corruption in Cyprus has suffered numerous blows, but it continues to reign, Attorney General Costas Clerides told the same event. Despite these alarming findings, we must never cease fighting corruption, he added.

For no circumstances can we allow a few corrupt people to rule our country Clerides underlined and added that more blows must be dealt to corruption.

Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides said from his part that the levels of corruption were beyond what he believed them to be when he took his office. Only those with a strict conscience and strong moral values and principles were not involved in corruption cases Michaelides said.

Defence tenders, public tenders, public property management, Turkish Cypriot properties, planning zones, favorable tax treatment, tax evasion were some of the areas were corruption was widespread for years, the Auditor General noted.

Moreover, he said that the timing was propitious for the investigation of corruption cases, with Costas Clerides at the helm of the Law Service of the Republic of Cyprus and Zacharias Chrysostomou as Police chief.

Michaelides also referred to poor control exerted by the Audit Office in the past, noting that at times, the Service acted as a cover-up tool, when it should have revealed scandals. I can not enter into a logic of granting immunity to every previous official, this is against the principle of accountability, he concluded.

Source: Cyprus News Agency