|Monday, 19 February 2018|
Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-11-27
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From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>
 Major child porn trafficking ring dismantledThe police electronic crimes squad in Greece broke up a major child pornography ring on Thursday following a four-month investigation codenamed "Charlie" conducted in Athens, Thessaloniki and 14 other cities throughout the country. Seventeen people were arrested, 16 Greek nationals and a foreigner, who were charged with multiple counts of child pornography trafficking on the internet, while charges have been filed against a total of 55 people.
Among the accused are a university professor, a lawyer from Kilkis, a physical education professor, businessmen, a university student, and a state Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT SA) cameraman, assigned since April 3, 2008 the Greek Parliament's television station.
The cameraman was immediately removed from the post following a decision signed by Parliament President Philippos Petsalnikos on Thursday.
The Greek Police were notified of the illicit activity after an international investigation led to the electronic traces of 158 Greek internet users.
The 55 electronic traces identified led to specific internet users who were trafficking hardcore child pornography material depicting very young children in sexual activity with adults. The cruelty of the scenes in certain instances was "unprecedented", according to police.
Certain of the individuals involved had activated special software enabling their computers to operate on their own and exchange child porn material files with other paedophiles throughout the world.
Police raids on private residences in Athens, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Iraklio, Kavala, Farsala, Alexandroupolis, Katerini, Nea Kalikratia, Neos Marmaras, Kilkis Igoumenitsa, Ioannina, Argos, Rhodes and Chania led to the confiscation of 88 computer hard-drives, 8 portable pcs and a large number of cds and dvds with a total capacity of 50,000 GBs. In Attica region alone, police conducted a total of 32 prosecutor-supervised house investigations.
 Damanaki named new EU Commissioner for Fisheries, Maritime AffairsEuropean Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, officially releasing the composition of the new Commission on Friday, announced that Commissioner Maria Damanaki from Greece has been assigned the portfolio of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs.
 Environment Commissioner briefs parliamentary committeeEU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said Friday that he was opposed to the Acheloos River diversion, during a briefing of the relevant parliamentary committee in Athens ahead of the upcoming UN international conference on climate change in Copenhagen.
Replying to a call by Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) parliamentary alliance leader that he take a stance on "this major environmental problem that remains open, despite negative rulings by the EU and Greece's Council of State", Dimas noted that he has already stated his position in writing, noting that diversions of rivers, and therefore also that of the Acheloos, "are contrary to protection of the environment".
"Consequently, I am opposed to any (river) diversions in general," Greece's EU Commissioner stressed.
On the Copenhagen summit, Dimas was optimistic that a comprehensive global pact will be reached on reducing greenhouse gases emissions, adding that the EU will seek the achievement of a political agreement aimed at speedy commencement of implementation of the pact and a reduction of pollutants in tandem with wiping out poverty.
Both Dimas and Environment, Energy and Climate Change minister Tina Birbili, who also addressed the committee, stressed the need for a legally binding agreement over the next three to six months.
Dimas further emphasised the necessity of green development which, he noted, concerns all the governments "in order to become more competitive with alternative forms of energy".
He warned, however, that the "green taxes" must be "fiscally neutral" and should not be exploited by economy ministers to increase the revenues in their coffers, "which unfortunately is the case in many countries", thus discrediting the real goal, which is protection of the environment.
"My proposal is that the green taxes be rechanelled to the low and medium income groups or be used for other environmental reasons," Dimas added.
 MIG, Marfin Popular Bank assure that Dubai developments do not affect their operating performancesThe recent developments in Dubai do not affect the operating performance of Marfin Investment Group or Margin Popular Bank, two carbon-copy announcements by MIG and the Bank said on Friday, prompted by "a number of (press) articles regarding the ownership of shares of our Company by 'Dubai Financial Group'."
The announcements clarified respectively that:
1. MIG does not have any common investment, common interest or co-operation at a corporate level with the State of Dubai nor with any company related or associated to the State of Dubai. (Marfin Popular Bank clarified that it "has not provided any credit facility, financing or loan of any form to the State of Dubai nor to any company related or associated to the State of Dubai"). Therefore, there can be no impact whatsoever to the financial results of MIG (Marfin Popular Bank) arising from any developments in Dubai.
2. We have no official information regarding the full intentions of "Dubai Financial Group" regarding a full or partial disinvestment of their shares in MIG (Marfin Popular Bank).
3. Other strategic shareholders of MIG (Marfin Popular Bank) have expressed their initial intentions to acquire the shares of "Dubai Financial Group" should the latter decide to proceed with a partial or full disinvestment of its stake in MIG (Marfin Popular Bank). These intentions have been already communicated to "Dubai Financial Group" and are awaiting its response.
"In light of all the above, it is evident that the recent developments in Dubai do not affect the operating performance of MIG (Marfin Popular Bank)," the announcements concluded.
 FinMin meets BoG chiefThe turbulence on the markets is the result of the Greek economy's loss of credibility inherited from the preceding New Democracy (ND) government and acts of profiteering, finance minister George Papaconstantinou said on Friday, adding, however, that profiteering actions do not impact the Greek public sector since it does not have immediate borrowing needs, while the 2010 borrowing program is smaller than that of 2009.
Replying to press questions on recent reports by international financial houses on the Greek economy, Papaconstantinou noted that there are both negative and positive reports regarding the problems of the economy, and stressed that the problems are not new, but long-standing ones. He added that the reports by certain financial firms do not objectively assess the problems existing in Greece's economy.
The minister further noted that the efforts to solve those problems were beginning now, by the new government. He stressed that the efforts will be consistent, with a dual goal: first, to reduce the fiscal deficit and, second, to boost development.
Questioned in the increase in the spreads of the Greek state bonds in recent days, Papaconstantinou explained that these spreads have increased in all countries similar to Greece.
On the government's more general planning, Papaconstantinou said that the determination, as well as a plan, existed, while specific moves are being made to support growth and incomes, and to consolidate a healthy fiscal environment.
In that framework, he continued, a dialogue has commenced on reforming the social security system, while a broad dialogue will open in the next few days on reforming the taxation system. In addition, Papaconstantinou said, all the ministries have commenced efforts to contain the public expenditures.
Papaconstantinou also conferred on Friday with Bank of Greece (BoG) governor George Provopoulos as part of his regular meetings for exchanges of views on the Greek economy and the developments in and prospects for the Greek banking system.
Provopoulos told reporters afterwards that the Greek banking system is healthy and stable, adding that the capital adequacy indices are high, improving, and higher than those of banks in other countries.
He explained that the recent capital increases by many major banks were concluded successfully, noting that this reflects the confidence of the international markets in the Greek banking system.
Provopoulos further said that the Greek banks are now able to disengage themselves from the liquidity-boosting plan for the economy as of next year.
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