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24th May 2022
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HomeLegal MattersCoronavirus helps establish anti-corruption agency

Coronavirus helps establish anti-corruption agency

The coronavirus pandemic has had an unexpected benefit of ‘encouraging’ Cyprus to establish an anti-corruption agency.

Cyprus was ranked in 52nd place out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index having fallen from 42nd place in 2020 and from 30th place a decade ago in 2011.

A poll conducted by state broadcaster CyBC in 2021, found that 28% of the sample of 1,400 people thought that corruption was the number one problem in Cyprus, with the COVID-19 pandemic coming in second place with 26% – and 52% of those interviewed believed that Cyprus is a country where corruption will always be present.

In 2020 Cyprus ended its ‘Golden Passports’ scheme that granted citizenship to wealthy foreign investors after corruption allegations that followed an undercover investigation by Al Jazeera brought world-wide attention to the problem. A subsequent report into the scheme revealed that more than half the 3,000 citizenships granted between 2007 and August 2020 were unlawful.

Cyprus had been talking anti-corruption legislation for four years with little progress being made.

European Commission weighs in

But anti-corruption legislation was placed high on the agenda after the European Commission weighed in by sending a letter of formal notice to Cyprus for failing to correctly transpose EU Directive 2017/1371 on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law. (The deadline to transpose this Directive into national law expired on 6 July 2019.)

On Thursday, after a lengthy debate and four years of talking, MPs finally passed a law establishing a national anti-corruption authority.

The final push came from Brussels with the first tranche of funding through the Recovery and Resilience Facility designed to mitigate the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

It seems that every cloud has a silver lining.

 

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