|Sunday, 20 October 2019|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 10-09-28
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 28 September 2010 Issue No: 3604
 Effort to restructure economy must continue without slackening, PM saysPrime Minister George Papandreou, addressing a cabinet meeting on Monday, stressed that the effort to restructure the economy must be continued without the slightest slackening.
Papandreou said that so far this effort is proceeding with success. However, as he noted, this success will be sealed by the major changes that must be promoted in every sector and must improve the daily life of the citizen, his prospect and future.
The prime minister referred to the issue of pending tax cases, pointing out that all these years the taxation system was functioning with evident deficiency and tolerance for tax evasion.
At the moment, he added, there are 2.5 million unchecked uses, a phenomenon for which he attributed responsibility almost exclusively to the state.
This is the reason, as he stressed, for which a new start must be made, a new taxation conscience must be shaped and there should be a new taxation conception.
"This reform is taking place for us to change the unbearable legacy of a sinful past, part of which are the unchecked cases." the premier said.
Referring to the difficulty in clearing up all these cases, Papandreou stressed that no taxation apparatus, not even the most perfect could effectively clear up and in a transparent way so many cases in a small period of time.
The prime minister reiterated his advice to the cabinet members "not to identify themselves" with their ministries and called on them to shape a specific timetable for the major priorities set by every ministry.
He further said that the government must work with binding timetables and also called for every ministry not to bring a certain issue fragmentally to the cabinet council, but must present its overall policy that which will be highlighted publicly.
The prime minister placed special emphasis on the communication management of government actions, stressing that the aim is the maximisation of the result of government initiatives.
Papandreou also referred to the announcements made in Delphi on Sunday and concern changes in Third Stage Education where, as he said, "we made a start" and added "we have every possibility of building a system that we deserve and that meets the needs of the times."
He also commented on statements by main opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras on the annihilation of the deficit, characterising him and the ND cadres "apprentice magicians who, however, are responsible for the present deficits with their actions. We, he added, are continuing with seriousness and speak with actions that are changing Greece."
He also said that to young people's dilemma on leaving or staying in the country, the government replies that they must stay to change the country.
Papandreou referred briefly to his visit to the United States and to the meetings he had there, saying that there was a very positive response regarding the effort being made by the country to exit from the economic crisis and promote major changes.
Focusing as well on the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), Papandreou said that Greece is always ready and has the will to promote the issue for the finding of a mutually acceptable solution.
 ND leader replies to PM's statements at cabinet meetingMain opposition New Democracy (ND) party leader Antonis Samaras, commenting on what the prime minister said during the cabinet meeting, said that "it is magical to have padlocks and inflation at the same time and to increase taxes, without receiving revenues."
He added that "it is audacity while you have already fallen out in all your predictions in four months, to dispute what might achieve a different policy mixture in a year and a half."
 PM to chair meeting on draft budgetPrime Minister George Papandreou will chair a government meeting at the Maximos Mansion on the draft budget on Tuesday.
Earlier, Papandreou will be meeting Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou on the economy.
Moreover, the prime minister will be holding meetings with European Commission Internal Affairs Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom and the US Ambassador Daniel Smith, at the Maximos Mansion, at 11:00 and 16:00 respectively.
 Environment ministry presents 'improved' biodiversity legislationThe environment ministry on Monday presented an improved version of its draft bill on protecting biodiversity, developed in collaboration with the other ministries involved and after a process of public dialogue.
Among others, the improved version of the draft bill also includes an article on environmental biosecurity designed to protect natural biodiversity from contamination by genetically modified organisms.
Other provisions in the draft legislation concern the process of delineating and protecting the country's coastal zones and includes articles expressly forbidding the unauthorised opening of roads in forest, meadow and coastal ecosystems.
A ministry announcement said the draft bill will update environmental legislation in line with Community directives and aims at the sustainable management and effective preservation of natural wealth as a valuable and irreplaceable national asset.
Among the significant changes in the draft law are the inclusion in article 3 on protected areas of 'ecodevelopment zones' that allow housing and low-impact activities within regional parks and the inclusion of 'geotopes' and geoparks among protected landscapes, given the rich geological diversity in Greece. It now also allows the creation of a protected region that aims to preserve agricultural biodiversity.
The limits of special preservation zones and special protection zones (NATURA 2000 Network) are to be digitised and approved by presidential decree and will be available to the public via the environment ministry website.
Article 6 of the bill, meanwhile, expressing forbids the entry of off-road motorised vehicles into ecologically sensitive areas except for the purposes of dealing with natural disasters and for the purposes of agricultural and livestock breeding.
There have also been additions to the lists of important fauna and flora included in article 7 in order to include local varieties of plant and animals species, including local breeds of farm animals, while article 8 on protecting endemic biodiversity includes genetic pools for food and agriculture.
 Minister of State on old Hellinikon airportMinister of State responsible for investments Haris Pamboukis, referring on Monday to reports on the utilisation of the location of the old Hellinikon airport, said that "the reshaping on the location of the old airport at Hellinikon will be planned taking into consideration the environmental sensitivities of the Greek people, with the aim of upgrading the quality of life of the inhabitants of the Attica basin."
Pamboukis also stressed that the scenarios that have been recycled in past days and speak of "Las Vegas type development" lack seriousness and function desorientatively.
The minister further said that "the undertaking of reshaping Hellinikon as, in any case, of similar developmental projects as well, necessitates transparency, responsibility and seriousness from all forces, the briefing of all the sides involved, collective work and above all social support and solidarity."
 EU Internal Affairs Commissioner on asylum granting systemEuropean Union Internal Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malstrom, speaking in Greek Parliament on Monday, expressed the EU's will to help in the reforming of the system for granting asylum in Greece and gave a briefing on the plan for the creation of a joint European asylum system by 2012.
The Commissioner mentioned that the EU is sceptical to a considerable degree over the fact that the percentage of asylum granting in Greece is the lowest in all of Europe, as well as over the "particularly problematic" welcoming conditions.
Malstrom noted, however, that the EU is aware of the "great pressure" that is being exercised on Greece and the difficulties that the country is facing, due to the economic crisis and its geographical position, that renders it greatly exposed, vulnerable and sensitive to immigration waves.
Cecilia Malmstrom was received in Athens on Monday by Alternate Foreign Minister Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou at the foreign ministry.
The EU Commissioner also met with Citizens' Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis.
 Chinese prime minister to visit Greece October 2-4The Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China Wen Jiabao will be making an official visit to Greece between October 2-4, at the invitation of Prime Minister George Papandreou.
The Chinese prime minister will be accompanied by the National Development, Trade and Culture ministers, the Deputy Foreign Minister and the Central Bank's Governor.
 Samaras calls for end of truckers' mobilisationsMain opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras on Monday appealed to the truck owners to suspend their mobilisations and, at the same time, called on the prime minister to extend the transitional period for implementation of legislation liberalising the road freight transport sector.
Samaras made the appeal in response to the problems created in the supply of market as a result of the ongoing mobilisations.
He stressed that "reason should prevail to both sides of the conflict because the market has reached its limits and will not be able to withstand the current situation much longer."
 Panagiotopoulos: conditional support for 'unfair' tax measuresMain opposition New Democracy spokesman Panos Panagiotopoulos on Monday said that a measure giving incentives for immediate settlement of outstanding tax cases was "unfair" and offensive for honest tax-payers. He stressed that ND will only back the bill if households and small businesses were spared from additional taxes.
He said ND wanted the government to negotiate with the EU and IMF representatives for a reduction in the tax burden equal to the sums it will receive from the settlement of outstanding tax dues during the coming year.
"We are asking the government not to impose new revenue-raising measures by increasing objective property values, transferring goods from the 11 percent VAT bracket to 23 percent VAT and by imposing yet another one-off levy on businesses," he added.
 KKE leader: More measures to comeThe PASOK government has taken the worst measures that Greece has ever known, and they will have long-term consequences on the people and the country, Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga said during a press conference on Monday, and predicted that additional harsh measures will be taken, beyond the Memorandum.
She charged that the government will attempt to intensify the maniplulation of the people and put coercive dilemmas to them so as to ameliorate their expression of opposition and rage with their votes in November's local government elections.
 LAOS leader meets with EYP employeesPopular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) leader George Karatzaferis met Monday with the presidium of the Panhellenic Federation of Employees of the National Information Service (EYP).
In a statement afterwards, Karatzaferis said he was briefed on the EYP employees' problems, which he said were many and need to be discussed serious so as not to find ourselves facing "unpleasant surprises at such a criticial time for the country".
 Discussion at foreign ministry on Israeli-Palestinian peace talksProspects for new peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were discussed in detail by a pair of distinguished academics who in the past served as high-ranking advisers for the respective sides, during in an event organised at the foreign ministry by ELIAMEP.
The two featured speakers were Menachem Klein, a professor at the Bar-Ilan University of Tel Aviv, as well as Yezid Sayigh, a professor at the King's College London. Participating in the discussion, coordinated by ANA-MPA Managing Director Nikolas Voulelis, was ELIAMEP General Director Theodoros Dokos.
Both Klein and Sayigh analysed developments from their perspective, yet both were critical regarding the stance of Israeli governments, which they said mostly favoured a climate of tension. Both academics, in their addresses, and replying to questions, did not predict success of the re-commenced talks.
"There are no hopes of progress for full pacification, under the present circumstances. Many things must change," Klein said, pointing out that good intentions are not enough, and that there must be pressure towards the Israelis, who are insisting on maintaining the status quo by expanding settlements in the West Bank.
 Reception by new U.S. ambassadorAn acquaintance reception for the new ambassador and the new press attache of the U.S. embassy was given on Monday by the embassy's attache Tom Miller.
The new U.S. ambassador Daniel Benett-Smith will be accredited on Tuesday to the President of the Republic and will be assuming this post after a long tenure at the office of the U.S. Secretary of State.
The new press attache Stewart Smith completes together with Mrs. Hamilton the U.S. embassy's press office.
The reception was attended by journalists, businessmen and academics.
 Gov't offers more incentives to taxpayers with pending tax casesA cabinet meeting on Monday approved new, more favourabe, terms for a draft bill offering taxpayers incentives to close pending tax cases of the last decade.
The draft bill, expected to be tabled to Parliament on Tuesday, envisages a 20 pct down payment of the total sum, from 25 pct initially announced, and more flexibility in full repayment to 24 months, from 12 originally planned. The draft legislation exempts from the scheme all taxpayers not included in inspection groups by tax agencies in the period 2000-2007, while for the years 2008 and 2009, taxpayers will be offered a 50 pct discount.
 Deputy finance minister addresses finance sector experts on CyprusNICOSIA (ANA-MPA - A. Viketos)
Greece's Deputy Finance Minister Philippos Sahinidis appeared confident on Monday that Greece will be able to overcome the current economic crisis and emerge stronger than before, both economically and politically, during his address to a dinner for finance sector representatives organised by Eurobank in Nicosia.
"We are trying to put the country in order," he stressed.
The dinner was also addressed by Eurobank's deputy CEO Nikolaos Karamouzis, who said that bank mergers were not a "panacea" and that Eurobank's priority was to strengthen the bank's position.
 Trichet sees change in macro-economic conditions in GreeceThere has been a very, very important change of the trajectory of the macro-economic policy of Greece, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said on Monday.
Addressing the European Parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, the ECB's president said that "my only message now would be: implement rigorously what has been decided, which is well-oriented in our opinion and which is monitored every quarter by the IMF on one hand and by the Commission in liaison with us on the other hand. "If this is done well as we trust and in an effective manner then I expect that it will be recognized and change the overall judgment which is progressively changed," Trichet said.
 Ex-EIB official Gennimatas: Memorandum needs revisionGreece is in a desperately difficult position at the moment and needs the active participation of its citizens towards seeking the best possible managers for the most difficult period in the country's post-war history, Panagiotis Gennimatas, a European Investment Bank honorary president told ANA-MPA on Monday.
Commenting on the implementation of a memorandum by the government, Gennimatas said that with the beginning of fall it was clear that all programmes and targets were been reviewed.
"The memorandum itself was under revision inside and outside Greece. I believe we will have significant changes so that the size of the problem would be integrated within the memorandum and the time of achieving targets would be extended," he said.
Gennimatas said Greek citizens' responsibilities are great, being the victims of a desperate effort to raise money but they also have the obligation to acknowledge their responsibilities as citizens and taxpayers and to seek the best possible government to defend the country's interests in the next five years.
 Moody's says Greek banks' ratings justifiedA continued weakness and deteriorating asset quality and funding conditions among Greek banks continue to justify a negative outlook on the Greek banking sector as well as on the banks' standalone ratings, Moody's Investors Service said in a new report on the Greek banking market.
The recent release of macroeconomic statistics for Greece, as well as Greek banks' Q2 results indicate a trajectory that is broadly in line with Moody's expectations and therefore also with the ratings and outlooks that are currently held by Greek banks, Constantinos Kypreos, vice president-senior analyst in Moody's Financial Institutions Group said in a statement.
 Greek enterprises cautious over developments over next 2 yearsThe current financial and economic crisis will have a negative impact on Greek enterprises over the next five years, a survey by the Federation of Management Consultant Enterprises (SESMA) showed on Monday.
The survey, conducted on a sample of 180 top executives of Greek enterprises during the first half of 2010, showed that the most significant impact of the crisis was difficulty in accessing credit (64 pct), which combined with a high capital cost, were significantly burdening enterprises' financing operations.
Around 70 pct of the sample reported lower sales, while 71 pct of enterprises said they expected a decline in net profits and more than half said they have cut back in their investment programs.
Almost half (49 pct) said they expected sales to fall in the next two years, although the percentage was down from 69 pct of the previous survey, while 39 pct of enterprises expected a worsening of their credit ratings. A 92 pct of enterprises said they would cut back on their costs, while two-thirds would make a greater use of outsourcing services. However, 37 pct of the sample said their export business would not be affected because of the crisis.
Greece enterprises were cautiously optimistic over the course of the Greek economy in the next two years (47 pct), while 52 pct said they were pessimistic.
 Agriculture minister at EU farm ministers' council; repeats opposition to GM cropsBRUSSELS (ANA-MPA - V. Demiris)
Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Costas Skandalidis on Monday participated in an EU agriculture ministers' meeting, where he repeated Greece's position in support of a ban on cultivating genetically modified organisms in Greece.
According to Skandalidis, Greece is against every effort to cultivate, import or adopt any list of approved GMOs and he asked that any step in this direction be legally and scientifically backed.
The minister also promised to raise the issue of cereal prices and the crisis in the cereals' market during the council's afternoon session, during which Greece will ask for a price watchdog for cereals and also a crisis management mechanism that will deal with food and structural crises on a European level. He said that Greece would like to see specific measures that will alleviate the repercussion of price instability and rampant profiteering and stabilise farmer incomes.
 Master plan drafted to develop spa facilities in western PeloponneseThe Greek government is drafting a master plan envisaging the development of Kaifas spa facilities and the development of real estate properties in the seaside regions of Zaharo and Kounoupeli, in the prefecture of Ilia, western Peloponnese.
The head of Hellenic Tourism Development Co, Avgi Markopoulou and the chief executive Dimitris Lambrou, discussed the plan during a three-day tour of the locations, September 23-25, as part of a strategy to accelerate procedures towards a more efficient use of tourism real estate property.
In a series of meetings, held with local authorities, talks focused on ways to achieve a better management of spa facilities in Kaifas and Kyllini. Helenic Tourism Development plans to launch open tenders for both projects. "These properties could be very well developed, upgrading the Ilia region both touristically and economically, ensuring the region's environmental characteristics," Mrs Markopoulou said.
 PPC approves cooperation with EDFPublic Power Corporation on Monday approved the framework of cooperation with France's EDF Energies Nouvelles and EDF EN Greece in the development of renewable energy sources with a power of around 400 MW in Greece.
The cooperation includes PPC, PPC Renewables, EDF Energies Nouvelles and EFG EN Greece and focuses -in priority- the development of wind power parks in Florina (northern Greece), Crete and Viotia. PPC said the cooperation is based on the know-how and expertise of both groups and focuses on the joint development and management of large, complex and technologically-advanced projects in the renewable energy sector.
 IKA: debt rescheduling programme progressing wellA total of 20,066 enterprises have applied so far to be included in a social-contribution debt rescheduling programme announced by the government in July, the Social Insurance Fund (IKA) announced on Monday.
In an announcement, IKA said 14,835 debtors have been included in the programme so far, with a rescheduled sum of just more 364 million, of which IKA will collect 42.79 million euros (21.47 million euros through direct payment and the remaining 21.32 million euros through 36 or 48 equal monthly payment.
 Portuguese-flagged cruise ship docks in Piraeus; welcomed by dep. ministerThe Portuguese-flagged cruise ship "Grand Celebrity", which sailed into the port of Piraeus on Monday morning, is the first such vessel to dock at the Xaveriou terminal, a development that coincided with World Tourism Day.
The Grand Celebrity hosts roughly 1,600 passengers and crew.
In welcoming the vessel, Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Giorgos Nikitiadis noted that tourist arrivals in 2010 were not reduced compared to 2009 but on the contrary, showed a slight increase, in spite of the difficulties plaguing the country and earlier pessimistic predictions.
 Olympic Air wins ERA silver award for 2010-11Olympic Air has won the silver award as the ERA Airline of the Year for 2010/11, an award bestowed by the European Regions Airline Association.
The award was presented during an annual general assembly of ERA in Barcelona.
The ERA Airline of the Year award is earned for quality amongst European regional airlines, based on a whole range of activities an air carrier conducts.
The ERA award represents a significant recognition in the airline industry.
ERA has more than 200 members. It represents 70 airline companies covering 426 destinations in 61 European countries, carrying 70,600,000 passengers through 1.6 million flights annually.
 OSE work stoppagesHellenic Rail Organisation (OSE) employees will be holding work stoppages from Monday to Wednesday in protest of provisions in a draft law recently unveiled for the restructure of the loss-generating railway.
Three 3-hour stoppages are planned for Monday and Tuesday, and a five-hour stoppage for Wednesday.
There will be no rail service 6:00-9:00 a.m., 2:00-5:00 p.m. and from 9:00 p.m. to midnight on Monday and Tuesday, while the work stoppage on Wednesday will be from 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m.
The strike affects all OSE and Suburban Railway (Proastiakos) trains, while there will also be no service on the Metro line from Doukissis Plakentias station to Athens International Airport (AIA), as that section of the train track belongs to OSE.
 Metro, airport line unaffected by OSE work stoppages on Tues.Athens metro service will run as scheduled on Tuesday, Sept. 28, and will not be affected by a latest series of work stoppages announced by the union representing employees of Hellenic Railways (OSE).
AMEL, the company operating Metro, announced that the line from Doukissis Plakentias to the Athens International Airport will not be affected by the mobilisations, in spite of the fact that the specific section of the tracks belongs to OSE.
 Stocks end 1.18% downStocks ended lower at the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market falling below the 1,500 level. The index fell 1.18 pct to end at 1,496.33 points, after rising as much as 1.7 pct during the session. Turnover was a low 89.603 million euros.
The Big Cap index fell 1.63 pct, the Mid Cap index eased 0.62 pct and the Small Cap index ended 0.65 pct lower. Travel (1.59 pct) and Oil (1.46 pct) scored gains, while Banks (2.99 pct) and Media (2.19 pct) suffered the heaviest percentage losses of the day.
Broadly, decliners led advancers by 101 to 54 with another 69 issues unchanged. Perseus (16.67 pct), Paperpack (15.63 pct) and Edrasi (11.11 pct) were top gainers, while NEL (20 pct), Altec (10 pct) and Tegopoulos (10 pct) were top losers.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +1.46%
Personal & Household: +1.43%
Raw Materials: -1.00%
Travel & Leisure: +1.59%
Food & Beverages: -1.04%
Financial Services: -0.18%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, OPAP, HBC Coca Cola and Alpha Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 4.61
Public Power Corp (PPC): 11.33
HBC Coca Cola: 18.91
Hellenic Petroleum: 5.78
National Bank of Greece: 7.62
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 4.37
Bank of Piraeus: 3.68
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market shrank to 53 million euros on Monday, of which 38 million euros were buy orders and the remaining 75 million were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 7.0 million euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds fell to 864 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 10.92 pct and the German Bund 2.28 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month rate was 1.42 pct, the six-month rate 1.13 pct, the three-month 0.89 pct and the one-month rate 0.65 pct.
 ADEX closing reportThe September contract on the FTSE 20 index was trading at -1.82 pct in the Athens Derivatives Exchange on Monday, with turnover a low 22.218 million euros. Volume on the Big Cap index totaled 4,943 contracts worth 17.842 million euros, with 26,419 open positions in the market.
Volume in futures contracts on equities totaled 7,308 contracts worth 4.376 million euros, with investment interest focusing on National Bank's contracts (2.859), followed by Eurobank (468), OTE (300), Piraeus Bank (290), Alpha Bank (1,064), GEK (282), Hellenic Postbank (683) and Cyprus Bank (369).
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.358
Pound sterling 0.857
Danish kroner 7.509
Swedish kroner 9.244
Japanese yen 114.43
Swiss franc 1.336
Norwegian kroner 7.977
Canadian dollar 1.390
Australian dollar 1.413
 Somali pirates release hijacked Greek shipA Greek-owned cargo ship seized by Somali pirates in the Somali Basin early Saturday has been released, a spokesman for owners TDM Carriers Ltd said on Monday.
The Panama-flagged "MV Lugela", carrying a load of steel bars and wires and a 12-member crew of Ukrainians, sent a distress call to company headquarters on Saturday as Somali pirates attacked the 4,281 dwt freighter after transiting through the Gulf of Aden headed for Mauritius, and a short while later the ship altered its course towards Somalia.
The vessel was in the Somali basin, approximately 900 miles east of the Somali pirate den of Eyl, Somalia, at the time of the incident
A spokesman for the owners said that the ship's captain contacted the company late Sunday night and said that the pirates have abandoned the vessel, and the crew were all well in health.
The MV Lugela has resumed its journey to its original destination, Mauritius, the spokesman added.
The EU's naval force in Somalia (EUNAVFOR) said that it is monitoring the situation.
 Second flotilla eyes end-of-year Gaza journeyA second flotilla of vessels with humanitarian aid for Gaza will depart by the end of the year, members of the Free Gaza Movement said in a press conference on Monday in Athens, in the presence of activists from countries participating in the initiative.
They clarified, however, that the departure of the vessels will depend on developments and Israel's stance. Currently, the flotilla comprises eight vessels.
The first flotilla departed for Gaza in late May, and on May 31 Israeli armed forces stormed the vessels.
 Aid convoy for Gaza departs from AlexandroupolisAn aid convoy made up of 42 vehicles and 91 volunteers - mainly Palestinians from the United Kingdom and Australia - departed from the northern Greek city of Alexandroupolis on Monday morning to continue their overland journey to Gaza, passing via Turkey, Syria and Egypt.
The convoy, which is bringing humanitarian aid in the form of medical supplies and drugs to the besieged Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, was given a warm send-off by Palestinian students currently studying at Alexandroupolis university as they left the Alexandroupolis municipal campsite, where they had spent the night.
 Authorities cite discovery of major real estate scamDozens of people -- including court judges -- are suspected of participating in a major property scam dating to at least 1997. The suspects stand accused of fraud against the State, banks and private individuals, as well as extortion, smuggling and manipulation of judicial investigations, police announced on Monday.
The alleged mastermind of the ring, which is believed to have illegally obtained the rights to dozens of land plots and buildings, is a civil engineer, while a former court judge and four attorneys are charged as being part of the "inner core" of the scam.
Authorities said profits estimated in the tens of millions of euros were "laundered' through at least 100 companies set up across the country to serve as fronts.
The ring members would reportedly target owners who lived abroad, elderly people who owned large property holdings or buildings abandoned for years.
The police investigation into the case was launched in Nov. 2009 following a tip-off while in July 2010 a 500-page-long report together with preliminary investigation material was presented to the Court of Appeals Prosecutor and the Supreme Court due to the involvement of members of the judiciary.
Police, in the presence of a prosecutor, searched 16 residences and offices over the last few days.
Moreover, Greece intelligence service also joined the investigation by recording phone conversations over a six-month period, following the issuance of a warrant.
 Seven killed in motorway pile-up near TrikalaSeven people were killed on Monday afternoon in a car crash involving two cars and a truck at the 39th kilometre of the Larissa-Trikala national highway. One woman was rushed to Trikala hospital with serious injuries.
 Angry trucker, 65, arrested for biting police brigadier's handA 65-year-old truck owner was marched before a police court on Monday after he bit a police brigadier in the hand during a scuffle outside a Metamorfosi sewage collection depot.
The incidents began when a group of protesting truck owners, who object to a recent law opening up their profession, attempted to block the entrance to the sewage depot and prevent tankers filled with sewage from emptying their loads.
A force of police led by the head of the northeast Attica police Brigadier Fotis Zouboulis arrived on the scene to drive back the truckers, who put up resistance.
During the fray, one of the truckers bit the senior officer in the hand while attempting to escape arrest but was subdued and taken before the court, along with his son who attempted to help him escape.
Brigadier Zouboulis was taken to hospital for first aid and precautionary medical treatment.
 Free admission to all museums and archaeological sitesAdmission to all archaeological sites, historical sites, museums and monuments will be free on this coming Monday to celebrate World Tourism Day, while all sites will be open, the culture and tourism ministry announced on Friday.
World Tourism Day on September 27 was first established by the UN in 1980 and this is its 30th anniversary.
 Rainy on TuesdayRainy weather and southerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 3-6 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 13C and 30C. Cloudy with possible local showers in Athens, with southerly 3-4 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C. Cloudy in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 16C to 28C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' dailies at a glanceThe planned changes in higher education preannounced on Sunday by Prime Minister George Papandreou and problems in the market from the ongoing truck owners' mobilisations and the changes in payroll.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Sweeping changes in Universities!".
APOGEVMATINI: "Reversals in universities (AEI) and technical colleges (TEI) via an express dialogue - Government announced a 'New University' model".
AVRIANI: "Businessmen and lawyers members of a mafia which 'looted' land plots and houses in auction".
CHORA: "Antonis (Samaras) excels while George (Papandreou) sinks".
ELEFTHEROS: "Ruling PASOK and the media had set up the Vatopedi monastery scandal to overthrow former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis' government".
ELEFTHEROS TYPOS: "The new university entry exams system - The changes will be applied from 2014".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "All the changes in Universities - Studies will be more directly connected with enterprises".
ESTIA: "Relentless partisanism divides even former fellow university students (Prime Minister George Papandreou and main opposition New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras)".
ETHNOS: "Everything will change in AEI and TEI entry exams".
IMERISSIA: "Market in despair - Merchants appeal to truckers".
NAFTEMPORIKI: "145 billion euros sinking funds seeking a way out immediately".
TA NEA: "Entry in University becomes easier but graduating gets tougher".
VRADYNI: "New cuts in civil servants' benefits - What the new unified payroll to be applied in 2011 foresees".
 Commission says return of Varosha a key element of Cyprus solutionNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The European Commission believes that the return of the fenced off town of Varosha to its lawful inhabitants will be one of the key elements for the achievement of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
A Commission's press release notes that "it is clear that the return of the city of Varosha to its lawful inhabitants is due to be one of the key elements of a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem", adding that it "fully supports efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem".
It also clarifies that ''it fully supports and is ready to assist in any effort to solve the problem that could be agreed between the two leaders of the two communities (in the context of the ongoing negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations) and is agreeable to the principles of the European Union, including the issue of Famagusta / Varosha".
The Commission issued the press release to express its regret for the "misinterpretation of a response given to a Cypriot journalist's question", adding that "our response was not referring to the proposal of President of the Republic of Cyprus".
The Cypriot President has announced three proposals on the Cyprus issue. One of them urges Turkey to implement UN Security Council resolution 550, which calls for the transfer of the fenced off area of Varosha (on the east), in Famagusta, now under Turkish occupation, to the administration of the United Nations. Part of this proposal is the opening of the port of Famagusta under EU auspices to benefit the Turkish Cypriots.
UN Security Council resolution 550 (1984) considers any attempts to settle any part of Varosha (the fenced off area of Famagusta) by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the UN.
The UN-led Cyprus talks resumed in September 2008 between President Christofias and former Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat. Talks continue now with Dervis Eroglu, who succeeded Talat in April this year.
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