The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has clarified that a recent investigation into a case of misuse of EU funds has no connection to Cypriot citizens or companies, the Attorney General’s office said.
Last week OLAF said EU money to improve forest fire detection was in fact pumped into a casino/hotel project in Cyprus which it did not name.
But it said the project funded by the Research Executive Agency (REA) and expected to be run by a consortium of five small and medium-sized enterprises based in France, Ireland, Romania and Spain had siphoned off more than €400,000.
The initial funding application and the subsequent progress reports were based on lies and justified by false documents.
This prompted questions in Cyprus as to which project OLAF was referring to, particularly after government spokesman Kyriakos Koushios said that no relevant authority of the Republic has been involved or informed of an OLAF investigation and given that the only casino company here had denied any connection.
In an announcement on Friday, the attorney general’s office said it had written to OLAF asking for clarifications on possible involvement of Cyprus or Cypriot citizens in the case.
“In his own letter, the Director-General of OLAF today clarified and confirmed that his Office did not come into any contact with any authorities in the Republic, due to the fact that none of the activities under investigation took place in Cyprus, or involved Cypriot citizens or Cypriot companies. Contacts were made with authorities in Ireland, Romania, Spain and France, and there was no evidence of criminal or fraudulent activity in Cyprus,” the announcement added.
The case investigated concerned the absorption of European funds on the basis of forged documents, the AG’s office said.
“The funds were not used in Cyprus, but were paid, as expenses of architectural and consulting projects outside Cyprus, for participation in the competitive tendering procedure for a construction permit of a casino hotel in Cyprus. However, this participation in the tendering procedure did not materialize due to financial difficulties of the consortium that promoted it,” it concluded.