Auditor-general submits report on ‘corruption’

By Charlie Charalambous

AUDITOR-GENERAL Spyros Christou yesterday submitted to President Clerides his findings on corruption allegations levelled at Interior Minister Dinos Michaelides.

Attorney-general Alecos Markides will now have the task of studying the report to ascertain whether any criminal offence has taken place.

Based on the Attorney-general’s ruling Clerides could approve the appointment of an independent prosecutor, sack Michaelides, or consider the matter closed.

Clerides said if the Auditor-general’s report showed there was a case of political responsibility against Michaelides he alone would decide whether to sack him or not.

But he dismissed any idea that there would be a wholesale cabinet reshuffle.

“The conclusions of the Attorney-general only concern one person,” said Clerides.

Markides’ ruling will take a matter of days rather than weeks, he added.

Christou said afterwards that an additional investigation would start on Monday in collecting evidence on Michaelides’ family payments since 1985.

He said this would cover both individual and business tax returns as a “matter of routine”.

The month-long inquiry was launched after Disy Deputy Christos Pourgourides made allegations against the Interior Minister of 14 counts of bribery and corruption.

The allegations included the acquisition of property and luxury flats in exchange for favours to big business and issuing work permits for cash.

Although Christou’s hefty 150-page report, compiled by 15 auditors, has been kept under a veil of secrecy, it is not thought to contain any conclusions or to apportion any blame.

The aim of the report was to collect facts and figures from various government departments and bank accounts to evaluate Michaelides’ wealth and relevant tax returns.

Teams of investigators collected evidence from the Inland Revenue Department, the Land Registry Office, the Companies Registration Office and the Aliens and Immigration Department.

Investigators also visited Michaelides’ Limassol home to estimate its value, because Pourgourides claimed it was worth more than £600,000 and had been built without the minister obtaining a loan.

Pourgourides alleges that Michaelides acquired millions of pounds since being appointed minister by Clerides in 1993 as a result of abusing his position.

Pourgourides, who is House Watchdog Committee chairman, and Michaelides will each receive a copy of the report, said Clerides.