Ex-commissioner accused of fraud still getting paid

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Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides has urged the Youth Board (ONEK) to force disgraced former volunteerism commissioner Yiannis Yiannaki into retirement, as he is still receiving 50% of his salary.

In a letter to ONEK, leaked to the media, the Auditor General told the board they are obliged to seek legal assistance to force Yiannaki into retirement while seeking damages.

Yiannaki stood down from his commissioner post last year amid a police investigation ordered by the auditor-general after evidence emerged that he manipulated his high school diploma grades and included a fake college degree on his CV.

His trial is scheduled for 5 October, but the legal proceedings could last for over a year, as the former volunteerism commissioner has pleaded not guilty to eight forgery charges.

Addressing the youth board, Michaelides said Yiannaki – although suspended from his job there – could carry on receiving 50% of this salary for the foreseeable future.

To stop this from happening, Michaelides recommended annulling his appointment and not waiting for the court case to end.

“It is our understanding that the former volunteering commissioner has been suspended but receives 50% of his salary as a youth board official,” said Michaelides.

“And given that you (ONEK) won’t take any relevant decisions in the meantime, the former commissioner will continue, perhaps for a few more years, to be a recipient of 50% of his salary”.

He pointed out that although ONEK’s regulations bar the body from taking disciplinary action against officials under criminal investigation, they can place the official under mandatory retirement.

Michaelides argued if the board holds sufficient evidence that an official is not qualified to hold the position, the board can force them out.

“ONEK should not remain idle but should seek legal advice on how to best handle the case to safeguard its interests.”

It was Michaelides who spotted several discrepancies in Yiannaki’s academic qualifications submitted for government posts.

According to the allegations, Yiannaki had manipulated his translated high school report card while also handing in a university degree which appears to be fake.

Photos suggest that Yiannaki forged his high school diploma marks by changing numbers but not the words, such as turning the number 13 into 19 (out of 20) and 12 into 17.

His grade average also appeared to have been modified on the certified transcript.

He faces eight charges centred on allegations that he forged his academic documents and grossly exaggerated his qualifications, such as a letter of recommendation and a university diploma.

According to the charges, Yiannaki forged a university degree document under the title “BS in Civil Engineering “from San Diego State University while knowing that it did not correspond to reality.

The document also bears the stamps of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Cyprus and the US Embassy, which also appear fake.

He has also been accused of forging a letter of recommendation before taking office at the Youth Board of Cyprus (ONEK). He was first appointed in 1996, securing a permanent job in 2007.

President Nicos Anastasiades appointed Yiannaki volunteerism commissioner in May 2013 on a good salary.