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14 October, 2019
 
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Defence ministry dismisses kickback allegations

Retired state auditor points to ex minister in public money squandering accusations

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The defence ministry is dismissing allegations of money squandering, accusing a former state auditor of rehashing an old story in connection with kickbacks worth €5 million.

Andreas Hasapopoulos, a senior state auditor who recently retired, took to social media this week to describe what he called squandering of public funds in the name of defence.

Hasapopoulos wrote on Facebook that the ministry is moving ahead with a €17 million purchase, saying the amount would include €5 million in kickbacks. He also said the tender was designed for only one bidder to fit the bill.

The former auditor, who is known for speaking out on a number of scandals, says the defence ministry is asking the Defence House committee to approve €17 million despite a having a reliable study showing the cost for a specific weapons system shouldn’t exceed €12 million.

The former official also pointed fingers to a former minister suggesting this person would be getting the €5 million

The defence ministry got wind of the comment on social media and issued a response, dismissing the allegations and saying all procedures were followed to the letter.

“It appears that Mr. Hasapopoulos is rehashing old allegations which have already been examined by the authorities that concluded they could not be substantiated,” the ststament said.

The ministry went on to say that officials in the specific case complied with all legalities and procedures and the tenders section committee on defence had decided to approve the purchase in the presence of another state auditor.

The statement also said that officials in another meeting also determined there was no issue that would hold back the purchase of the systems.

“Our concern is maintaining the operational readiness of the National Guard while at the same time protecting the public interest and the need for transparency,” the ministry said.

“We should be careful not to find ourselves in a state of inaction and stagnation that would only bring about a weakening of the National Guard’s power of deterrence,” the ministry added.

But Hasapoulos said in his social media post that he agreed and supported the need for boosting defence for the country.

But he also issued a warning.

“I wish to write this complaint as a warning because some people, in the name of the need for defending our country, they are squandering much needed public funds by benefiting from kickbacks,” Hasapopoulos said.

The former official also pointed fingers to a former minister, whom he did not name except to say this person held a different post currently, suggesting this person was getting the €5 million.

This is not the first time Hasapopoulos is at odds with the Defence ministry.

Two years ago, he warned that prices of Augusta helicopters were inflated by €6 million.

But when he warned his boss, the former Auditor General Chrystalla Georghadji who is today the Governor of the Central Bank, he said she chose to appear herself before the tenders section committee on defence where she allegedly withheld information.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  defence  |  Hasapopoulos  |  audit  |  scandal  |  kickback  |  Augusta

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