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Cyprus: Ports authority ‘wasting taxpayer’s money’ audit finds

The Cyprus Ports Authority (CPA) conducts its business with profligacy and has lax bookkeeping, as a result of which it wastes a great deal of taxpayer money, a new report has found.

In a just-released report, the auditor-general flags a slew of practices pointing to a culture of carelessness.

For example, a project involving the revamp of space in the old port of Limassol had not secured a final building approval – in blatant breach of the law.

In another instance, in June 2021 the CPA awarded a contract for the concession to utilise two spaces at the port of Limassol for a period of 13 years, with an option for a further 12 years. This also involved striking deals with two financial operators for an annual usage fee, which in both cases was far lower than the price quoted by the land registry in 2017 and then by a private assessor in 2020.

In the second case, the letter of guarantee submitted by the financial operator who eventually landed the contract, had an expiry date earlier than the date set out in the tender documents. As such, the auditor-general points out, the bid should have been rejected outright from the early stage.

Other findings include incomplete and belated filing of correspondence by the CPA, not keeping minutes of meetings, erroneous and/or unjustified payment for overtime work, and delays in invoicing for port concession fees.

Meanwhile the CPA paid out €27 million to 28 licensed porters at Limassol, plus €3.6 million to 22 licensed porters in Larnaca, as compensation for terminating their licenses. But this contravened legal advice that the porters in question had no legal right to compensation.

Elsewhere the report flags false statements made by CPA members. In one case, a former member of the board of directors, upon his appointment in September 2016, signed an affidavit affirming he had no professional business nor held any shares in a company engaging in business relevant to the CPA’s activities.

His statement appears to be false, as the person in question was a manager and a shareholder in a company to which the CPA had since 2011 granted a concession to provide ship supplies.

In another case, a CPA official who appears to have participated in negotiations over renewing a deal with a private company, had a first-degree relative who was the legal consultant for that same company – posing an issue of conflict of interest.

The CPA itself has kept the same law firm as its legal adviser since 1973 – in violation of relevant guidelines.
Source: Cyprus Mail

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