Efforts to assign members to a transparency commission are said to be stalling in the Republic of Cyprus, with politicians from the opposition crying foul over connections between some candidates and the country’s disgraced golden passports program.
According to local media, the House Legal Affairs committee held a hearing on Monday behind closed doors, where bios and credentials of 15 individuals were discussed as part of the installation of a new anti-corruption commission.
Following new legislation that calls on tougher audits on politicians and government officials, members of the neophyte advisory board were invited to the hearing to present the candidates, five of whom were to be appointed by President Nicos Anastasiades along with a comissioner.
But some members of the opposition raised objections over a number of proposed candidates, save for the position of the commissioner, raising concerns over the manner by which the advisory board took steps to select some individuals.
The former judge said some of the unwilling candidates were fairly young and did not wish to jeopardize their careers, while others were retirees who did not want to give up their peace of mind
Left party AKEL MP Aristos Damianou and Green party MP Charalambos Theopemtou took issue with some candidates, pointing to ties in the finance, business, and political domains, with the latter also suggesting there were links to political parties.
There were also concerns that some nominees had links to legal powerhouses involved in the processing of citizenships through the country’s defunct foreign investment program.
The head of the advisory board, former Supreme Court judge George Arestis, said he had advised colleagues to be particularly careful with vetting individuals to make sure they were not actively involved in politics.
Arestis, who was also Cyprus’ first judge on the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, also revealed that some 50 individuals on the island had been approached but refused to submit their resumes.
The former judge said some of the unwilling candidates were fairly young and did not wish to jeopardize their careers, while others were retirees and did not wish to give up their peace of mind.
Arestis also alluded to another group of unwilling candidates who simply did not wish to go through the vetting process and not get picked by the President.
The Group of States against Corruption, under the Council of Europe, has called on the Republic of Cyprus to enact measures to prevent corruption, prompting the Cypriot parliament to enact legislation to establish a national anti-corruption agency.
But during a conversation on state radio Tuesday morning, MP committee chair Nicos Tornaritis from the ruling conservative party DYSI admitted it was a challenge to put together a committee but also argued ties to particular sectors did not always mean conflicts of interest.
The radio host said the task for the committee was understandably difficult, given the small size of the community on the island.