NICOSIA – An agency to deal with corruption on Cyprus was sworn in as the government implemented recommendations made by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO – except for giving prosecutors autonomy.
The government adopted 15 of the 16 suggestions, but GRECO noted that prosecutors wouldn’t be able to work unhindered, effectively undercutting the purpose of the anti-corruption panel.
“GRECO notes that work on legislation relating to the Law Office of the Republic has not progressed further and the authorities are urged to accelerate this procedure with a view to strengthening the independence/autonomy of the prosecutorial functions,” it said, The Cyprus Mail reported.
Harris Poyiadjis, a former judge, chairs the new authority, and also hold the title of Transparency Commissioner. The agency will oversee cass of suspected corruption and use GRECO standards, the report said.
GRECO welcomed the adoption of the Code of Ethics for parliamentarians covering integrity-related matters which provides guidance on conflicts of interest and gifts and contains rules of relevance to integrity, it said.
But also outside the sphere of the panel’s oversight is that contacts with third parties and lobbyists, accessory activities and post-employment situations have been left out, further weakening the attempt to rein in corruption.
of the Code, which should be the reference document for ethical standards
“That said, GRECO welcomes the adoption of the Law on Regulating Lobbying, which includes obligations for MPs to report contacts with registered interest groups and representatives and regulates their contacts with them,” the report said.
It will examine reports among wrongdoing in the broader public sector, but will also be able to look at private-sector entities where these have dealings with the government to check for malfeasance.
But its investigative powers are also restricted and the body can’t subpoena records with a court order, as can police and if the police have begun a criminal investigation the panel’s work will cease.
Corruption watchdog Transparency International said Cyprus, known as a tax haven and also open to money laundering, has fallen back in the fight against corruption, falling 10 places to 52nd among 180 countries.