Audit Office probes every Presidential Palace overtime claim

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Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides will examine every overtime claim submitted by every employee at the Presidential Palace following a scandal involving overtime wrongly paid to deputy government spokesperson Doxa Komodromou.

According to local media, the Audit Office will review the files of 153 people – including 141 civil servants and the 12 members of the Presidency for any discrepancies in wasting public funds.

Politis daily quoted sources from the Audit Office saying the aim is to find out “who is being paid overtime, why they are being paid overtime, and to what extent they are entitled to be paid overtime.”

The development comes just days after the Auditor told MPs of the House’s Ethics Committee that Komodromou was accredited over time for preparing eulogies for national anniversaries, funerals, and speeches.

Komodromou, as claimed by the Auditor General, was also being paid overtime for attending meetings of the Cabinet and attending President Nikos Christodoulides at meetings with media, which are part of her job description.

Her appointment has been the subject of much scrutiny from the Audit Office shortly after the new government came into power in March.

The Auditor General had flagged issues regarding Komodromou’s appointment, given her unwillingness to resign from her position at the University of Cyprus, where she held an administrative post, before being seconded to the government.

Michaelides had urged Komodromou to return payments of €2,486 for overtime claimed in March–May 2023.

He also revealed that Komodromou is not the only person working for the Presidency who receives compensation for overtime work.

President Christodoulides’ secretary and the secretary to the First Lady Philippa Karseras have also submitted claims.

He told MPs the secretary to the First Lady was compensated for overtime work logged in for accompanying Karseras to various events.

It is understood that the Auditor General is alarmed that the list of staff employed at the Presidential Palace includes people related to President Christodoulides and others with known family ties.

Meanwhile, left Opposition party AKEL criticised the government, claiming that ‘unlawful’ overtime payments to the Presidency’s employees and advisors had the government’s blessing.

Taking to social platform ‘X’, AKEL MP Christos Christophides slammed the government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis, accusing him of endorsing the payments.

Christophides’ comments came after evidence emerged that Letymbiotis had signed the claims submitted by Komodromou and other government employees, vouching for their validity.

Letymbiotis told Politis Radio that he had merely vouched for where the said “employees were during the hours they had claimed as overtime and had not signed fake claims”.

The AKEL MP posted, “Either the government spokesperson does not know what he is signing, or he is lying. I don’t know which is worse.”