On 04.03.2022, the Cyprus Parliament has enacted the law, L.19(I)/2022 (“Law”), providing for the establishment of an Independent Authority against Corruption (the “Authority”).
In accordance with the provisions of the Law, the Authority shall be comprised of the Transparency Commissioner and four (4) other members, who are appointed by the President of the Republic of Cyprus. Τhe term of their office shall be six (6) years without the option of re-appointment. Persons of recognized prestige and supreme morality are appointed as members of the Authority, and no person can be so appointed to the office if: (i) he/she has been convicted of an offense entailing dishonesty or moral disgrace; (ii) and/or has been declared bankrupt, in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Law; and/or (iii) has not fulfilled his/her debts to the public up to the year preceding the year before his/her appointment to the office. During the term of their office, the members of the Authority are not allowed to hold any other position or office in the Republic and/or engage in any other paid work.
The mission of the Authority is to take the necessary steps and initiatives to ensure the coherence and effectiveness of the public sector's actions, as well as the actions taken by the wider public and private sector, in matters relating to the prevention of corruption. The Authority shall be also responsible to, inter alia, ensure the implementation, progress and evaluation of the national anti-corruption strategy, as adopted from time to time.
The Authority investigates, ex officio or following a complaint, any acts of corruption in the public, wider public and/or private sector. It is understood that, in terms of the private sector, the only complaints that might be submitted to the Authority are: (i) the ones relating to any acts of corruption committed by private sector entities or persons, which however directly involved public or wider public sector entities or persons; and/or (ii) acts of corruption committed by public or wider public sector entities or persons, in which private sector entities or persons were also involved.
The Authority is designated as the (independent) competent authority for coordinating any actions taken by the public, wider public and private sector, with regards to the preventing and combating of corruption, and has, amongst others, the following powers and responsibilities:
- Supervising and evaluating the actions taken by the public, wider public and private sector, in preventing and combating corruption
- Preparing ex officio reports with suggestions and proposals for the prevention of corruption
- Informing the private sector on best practices and standards for the prevention of corruption and providing advice and guidance for their adoption and proper implementation
- Assessing the risks associated with acts of corruption and, if necessary, drafting reports and making suggestions and recommendations for the prevention of such acts
- Issuing circulars to the relevant competent authorities and taking any necessary actions (where and to the extent permitted)
- Cooperating with international organizations and institutions on the implementation of programs, policies and/or strategic plans relating to the prevention of corruption, the receipt of technical assistance and the exchange of information
- Accepting complaints and receiving information and personal data which relates to acts of corruption in the public sector, the wider public sector and the private sector
- Investigating and evaluating any complaint, information or personal data that comes to its knowledge and which relates to acts of corruption in the public sector, the wider public sector and the private sector
- Collecting, recording, processing and/or evaluating, information and personal data for the purposes of combating and preventing corruption in the public, wider public and private sector
- Managing, keeping, and maintaining all necessary files and/or registers with personal information, for the purposes of carrying out its mission and responsibilities.
It is noted that the collection and processing of any personal data by the Authority shall, at all times, be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the applicable data protection laws and regulations.
In case where, in the exercise of its powers to investigate, collect and process information and personal data, the Authority finds a possible infringement of the provisions of the Law then:
(i) provided that the potential infringement may constitute a criminal offence, it prepares a report and submits it, together with all other available data and/or information that has in its possession, to the Attorney General of the Republic
(ii) provided that the potential infringement may be of a disciplinary nature, it prepares a report with all relevant information that it has in its possession, and refers the case to the appropriate authority, body or department to conduct a disciplinary investigation, regardless of any criminal liability.
Subject to the provisions of the Law that provide otherwise (with regards to criminal liability), a person who violates the Law, is guilty of an offense and, if convicted, is subject to imprisonment not exceeding two (2) years or a fine not exceeding ten thousand euros (€ 10,000) and / or both these penalties.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.