Cyprus initiates OPAP’s financial investigations

European sportsbetting and lottery giant OPAP could be in trouble with authorities in Cyprus after the island nation’s Attorney General reportedly ordered a police investigation into company finances.

According to a report from the Cyprus Mail newspaper, Costas Clerides initiated the action after OPAP demanded that the office of Rea Georgiou, the Cypriot General Accountant, sign a confidentiality agreement before receiving the annual accounts.

The unusual request, which was made public earlier this week during parliamentary discussions on proposed legislation that would reform Cypriots’ gambling rules so that they better conform to European Union legislation, was reportedly rejected by Georgiou after consulting with Clerides and then being asked. OPAP to deny access to his books.

Founded in Greece in 1958 as a state-owned gambling monopoly, OPAP was transformed into a joint stock company in 1999 before 2013 saw cash-strapped Athens sell its remaining 33% stake in Greco-Republican group company Emma Delta Hellenic Parent limited for an estimated $ 656 million .

The newspaper reported that OPAP, which has maintained Cyprus’ monopoly on providing lottery games, is subject to a bilateral agreement between Athens and Nicosia although critics argue that this status should be abolished as the Greek state is no longer a shareholder.

Odysseas Michaelides, Auditor General of Cyprus, previously stated that OPAP’s current turnover means that it has to pay an annual tax of around $ 37 million instead of the current $ 10.5 million on average each year. He reportedly explained that the operator’s annual gross receipts have shot up from around $ 52.7 million in the years leading up to 2013 now standing at around $ 211 million, meaning that the nation each month loses about $ 2.1 million under the deal. moment.

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“We do not feel comfortable with the current circumstances, to give the right to any of the operators without open competition,” said MP Michaelides during this week’s discussion. “What is most important is the part of the country. If it is clear that the public interest is served by direct appointment, then we agree. “