32.8 C
Nicosia
Friday, July 19, 2024

Attorney General: Cyprus is a strong partner of the European Public Prosecutor's Office

Must read

    Γ&epsilon ;νιεισγλσ: ΗΚποσισ&upsilon ρσαρσερωειγ ελiας

    Cyprus is proving to be a strong partner for all member states participating in the institution, said the Attorney General of the Republic, George Savvidis

    With ten active investigations in Cyprus and a total of 58 casesin which the European Public Prosecutor's Office in Cyprus assists other participating member states, Cyprus proves to be a strong partner for all the member states participating in the institution, said the Attorney General of the Republic, George Savvidis, at a conference on the role of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) in criminal protection of the financial interests of the European Union, which took place on Wednesday at the University of Cyprus, in the presence of the European General Prosecutor Laura Codruța Kövesi.

    In his greeting, the Attorney General stated that the European Union, realizing the need for an independent central body to deal with the challenges posed by organized crime, fraud and corruption, created the European Public Prosecutor's Office to strengthen the fight against crimes that affect the financial interests of the Union and emphasized that Cyprus was one of the first members to express their desire to participate and cooperate in its creation and remains the only common law country participating in the European Public Prosecutor's Office.

    With expertiseand the dedication of the new independent European body, the resources of Member States and EU citizens are now more effectively protected, continued the Attorney General, adding that his office has been designated by law as the competent authority for the implementation of Regulation 2017/1939 for the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office and expressed his satisfaction for the excellent, as he described, cooperation with the EPPO, which has been facilitated through the European Prosecutor, Anna Pantazis, and the European Delegated Prosecutor, Andris Kostantinou, who comes from the ranks of the Legal Service of the Republic and is an active member of the prosecution authorities, acting on behalf of the European Public Prosecutor's Office for the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses against the financial interests of the EU.

    He added that the General Prosecutor's Office supports the European Prosecutor's Office, providing the necessary infrastructure and personneladministrative support for its office in Nicosia, while all competent national authorities assist the European Public Prosecutor's Office in investigations where necessary.

    He also said that in 2024, the third year since the launch of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, there are 10 active investigations in Cyprus and a total of 58 cases where the European Public Prosecutor's Office in Cyprus is assisting other participating Member States, marking a steady increase in cases and highlighted that Cyprus is proving to be a strong partner for all participating Member States.

    Mr. Savvidis also noted that the Legal Service of the Republic, with the cooperation of the European Public Prosecutor and the Ministry of Justice, prepared and submitted to the House of Representatives bills for the better implementation of the regulation of the European Public Prosecutor's Office and the improvement of harmonization of the PIF directive, adding that the two bills were recently passed into law.

    “Our shared vision is a more transparent, accountable and resilient European Union, which we hope to achieve through our dedication and commitment to justice,” concluded the Attorney General.

    For its part, the European Attorney General stated that according to the Office's last annual report, 2 1/2 years after the start of its activities, the European Public Prosecutor's Office had more than 1,900 active investigations into a total estimated damage of more than 19 billion euros, of which more out of 200 concern the first project financed under Next Generation EU, with an estimated damage of more than 1.8 billion euros.

    “These numbers may seem shocking, but this is just the beginning. More money will reach member states through Next Generation EU funds and a large part of the flow will take place from now on. Certainly, our workload will continue to increase,” he added.

    The European Attorney General also highlighted the close links between organized crime and VAT fraud, which, according to Ms Kövesi, accounted for almost 60% of the estimated damage in all investigations by the end of last year.

    “More money in the hands of criminals equals more criminal economy, equate to more crime, violence and human misery. This is the truth and we should not embellish it. In recent decades, organized crime has gone beyond any acceptable measure and we have a collective responsibility for it. this. For years, we have been ignorant of what the true level of financial fraud and corruption means to our own security. This is why, as prosecutors, we cannot tolerate financial crime,” he emphasized.

    Referring to her recent visit to Athens, where the main topic of interest was, she said, the train accident in Tempi, where 57 people died and 80 others were injured, Ms. Kövesi said that this tragedy proves that fraud and corruption eventually kills.

    He added that last December, the European Public Prosecutor's Office prosecuted 23 suspects, including 18 civil servants, for crimes related to the execution of contracts for the restoration of the remote traffic control and signaling system in the Greek railway network, contracts that were co-financed from EU cohesion funds. He added that, according to the investigation, a total of 7 illegal extensions of the regional contract were granted and for this reason, the project is still not completed more than nine years after the contract was signed. He also pointed out that despite the fact that the original subject matter of one of the contracts had been changed in an illegal way, no one reported it to the European Public Prosecutor's Office and the case was opened ex officio.

    “We can no longer ignore the fundamental relationship between financial crimes and homeland security. If we look at the numbers according to available estimates, judicial authorities have managed to seize less than 2% of the annual proceeds of organized crime in the EU. This means that we need to redefine our strategy and work together. If we want to seriously affect the ability of criminal organizations to operate, we need to take economic criminals out of the equation and to achieve this we rely on a strong and effective European Public Prosecutor's Office and we are here to help,” he concluded.

    < p>University of Cyprus Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs Eleni-Tatiana Synodinou said in her own speech that corruption and financial crime undermine the rule of law by eroding trust in public institutions, distorting fair competition and diverting public funds from essential services and infrastructure, adding that the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office marks a monumental step forward in the collective efforts to safeguard the EU's financial interests and ensure the administration of justice in all Member States.

    Referring to the challenges posed by cross-border crimes to national legal systems, he added that the European Public Prosecutor's Office is a testament to the commitment to transparency and effectiveness in cooperation in the prosecution of crimes that cross national borders, adding that the strengthening of anti-corruption measures and the promotion of transparency are crucial steps towards promoting economic development and maintaining the integrity of the EU governance structure.

    The President of the Pan-Cyprus Bar Association, Michalis Vorkas, stated for his part that the conference offers the opportunity to explore various dimensions of the European Public Prosecutor's Office's work, such as the legal framework and challenges, jurisdictional case studies, its mechanisms and the obstacles it faces and the successes it has already achieved.

    He also underlined the active role of the Pancypriot Bar Association in these efforts and expressed the Association's commitment to justice and its protection, actively participating in the promotion of a legal environment that supports the mission of the European Public Prosecutor's Office and strengthens the capacities, its advocacy and cooperation and ensuring that its members contribute effectively to this pan-European endeavour.

    On behalf of the Minister of Justice and Public Order, the Deputy Chief of the Cyprus Police Dimitris Dimitriou stated in his speech that Cyprus was one of the EU member states that strongly supported the creation of the European Public Prosecutor's Office and was therefore one of its founding members of an intergovernmental organization that currently brings together 22 member states.

    He added that the Financial Crimes Prosecution Sub-Directorate of the Police is in very close cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor Andri Konstantinou, having been reinforced in 2023 with 6 additional investigators and in 2024 with 3 others, currently consisting of 31 members, 26 specialized investigators and 5 accountants.

    He also mentioned that 9 cases concerning the embezzlement of EU funds are currently being investigated by the Economic Crime Directorate, 5 of which concern a research project, 1 VAT fraud case, 1 European Parliament ethics violation case and 2 public procurement fraud cases.

    Source: cyprustimes.com

    - Advertisement -AliExpress WW

    More articles

    - Advertisement -AliExpress WW

    Latest article