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18 June, 2024
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Cyprus’ civil service secret out in the open

State employees with illegal side hustles use tricks to evade law, calls to probe possible conflicts of interest


Thousands of civil servants have been found to run private businesses or direct companies without permission from the state, with officials calling on violators to comply with the law and some politicians calling for an investigation into possible conflicts of interest.

Local media this week said at least 3700 civil servants in the Republic of Cyprus are involved in secret and unlawful occupations in the private sector, with additional reports saying many of them hold an executive or registrar position in a company or even hold shares without the required approval from the Finance Ministry.

Back in April a preliminary list was prepared by the Audit Office, according to local media, with reports saying the document included names of public administrators, educators, military officers, as well as both permanent and temporary state employees.

In the same month, Energy Minister Natasa Pilides had called on business stakeholders in Cyprus to embrace a new effort of recording and updating true information about beneficiaries of companies, saying a new digital registry could bolster transparency on the island. 

It appeared some civil servants reported a false profession on their Company Registry forms or hid their occupation status altogether

Opposition parties have called for an investigation, with center party DIKO calling for an in-depth probe into the wider public sectors including TEPAK University and semi-state organizations that spend public money.

Left party AKEL MP Andreas Pashiourtides said it appeared some civil servants reported a false profession on their Company Registry forms or hide their occupation status altogether.

Pashiourtides said it was important to check not only how many had a stake in private companies but also what was the nature of business in each case.

“Because a civil servant who has a stake in a company that competes for public tenders or takes part in such procedures is checked for conflict of interest,” the AKEL MP said.

Last month Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides, whose office drafted the list, said some 100,000 companies had registered with the state but failed to register with the Tax Department.

Michaelides also ruffled some feathers when he told a House committee hearing that some leadership positions in the civil service were filled by people who were incompetent.

The auditor also made headlines after his department criticized the Presidential Palace over hiring political associates whose temporary positions were later turned into permanent jobs.

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