Corruption watchdog to target senior officials

1 min read

Two British legal experts tasked with helping Cypriot authorities investigate corruption allegations involving controversial ‘golden passports’ will focus complaints on high-ranking officials, including former President Nicos Anastasiades.

According to local media, the anti-corruption watchdog has decided that complaints against the former President and the current assistant Attorney General take priority in the investigation to be carried out by internationally accredited lawyers.

The first complaint involves allegations by left-wing AKEL MP Christos Christophides against Anastasiades concerning the alleged conflict of interest as his former law firm offered services to suspect investors seeking to obtain a “golden passport”.

Christophides claimed that 353 passports were issued to clients of law firms belonging or related to the former President or cabinet members.

He also accused Anastasiades of using his position as President to benefit family members.

According to a second complaint filed by Christophides, a passport was given to a Russian investor who owns a banking institution housed in a building in Limassol, allegedly bought from one of the former President’s son-in-laws.

The authority against corruption has said it would also prioritise accusations against the assistant Attorney General, Savvas Angelides, as they have been feeding into an ugly spat between the legal services and the Audit Office.

Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides raised a conflict of interest when then-President Anastasiades asked Attorney General George Savvides and his assistant to probe any wrongdoing by the Cabinet in awarding Cypriot passports to foreign investors.

Savvides and Angelides had served as Justice and Defence Ministers under Anastasiades during the period in question.

Michaelides forwarded another set of complaints to the Anti-Corruption Authority involving the infamous Israeli spy van.

The complaint implies there was a cover-up by Angelides.

According to the complaint, Angelides’ brother’s law firm represented the owners of the spyware.

The Attorney-general’s office found itself targeted by opposition politicians for dropping the charges against Israeli defendants whose company was involved in the spy van case, which had allegedly eavesdropped on citizens.

Another complaint relates to the investigation of possible tax fraud by companies belonging to people who exercise public influence.

The Audit Office said it had identified the issue when checking golden passports handed to foreign investors.