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GRECO report on Cyprus: Need for uniform anti-corruption legislation and greater transparency of financing of political parties

Strasbourg, 4 April 2011 The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) today published its Third Round Evaluation Report on Cyprus, in which it stresses a clear need to establish a uniform legal framework for the criminalisation of corruption offences. GRECO also concludes that private sector financing of political parties should be more transparent.

The report focuses on two distinct themes: criminalisation of corruption and transparency of party funding. Regarding the criminalisation of corruption [Theme I], Cyprus has ratified the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173) and its Additional Protocol (ETS 191) and made the offences contained in these instruments directly applicable as domestic law. However, despite the fact that this legislation has been in force for several years, it has never been applied by the prosecutorial authorities nor by the courts. Instead, theses authorities have continued to exclusively apply old legislation concerning corruption offences, which does not comply with the requirements of the Criminal Law Convention and its Additional Protocol.

The co-existence of old and new legislation which overlap makes the legal framework in respect of corruption offences inconsistent. For the sake of legal clarity, GRECO sees a clear need to establish a uniform legal framework and to make sure that it is applied in practice.

As for party financing [Theme II], GRECO commends Cyprus for having adopted the “Law on Providing for Registration, Funding of Political Parties and Other similar Matters” (“Political Parties Law”, adopted on 10 February 2011). This law establishes a legal framework for political parties; their legal status and registration requirements as well as rules concerning the transparency of their financial administration. Moreover, the supervision of the financing of political parties has been entrusted to the Auditor General, an independent institution under the Constitution of Cyprus.

GRECO finds that the new legislation does not sufficiently address major areas to provide for transparency of private funding of political parties as required by Recommendation Rec(2003)4 on Common Rules against Corruption in the Funding of Political Parties and Electoral Campaigns. For example, there are no obligations upon political parties to report and make public the sources of donations and sponsorships; the accounting requirements are rather general in character and the scope of the monitoring by the Auditor General needs further clarification.

GRECO addresses 8 recommendations to Cyprus. In the second half of 2012, GRECO will assess the implementation of these recommendations through its specific compliance procedure.

Theme I on incriminations
Theme II on Transparency of Party Funding