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Athens News Agency: News in English, 10-05-28

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Samaras on Mantelis case
  • [02] Mantelis charged
  • [03] FinMin in OECD meeting

  • [01] Samaras on Mantelis case

    The admission by former minister Tasos Mantelis that he had taken money from Siemens for his own personal use "will go down in history as the most negative landmark in the political world's relations with transparency and decency," main opposition New Democracy (ND) leader Antonis Samaras said on Thursday.

    Speaking during a stormy session of Parliament that was nominally about the Kallikratis bill on local government mergers but dominated by the news of Mantelis' confession that he had taken money from Siemens, Samaras spoke of "nightmarish dimensions of corruption that undermined social cohesion" and stressed the need to shed light on all aspects of public life to protect it from corruption politicians and state officials.

    "The cynical confession of yet another top-flight PASOK minister that he was being bribed by a multinational company, which succeeded in sacking the country's public finance sphere, indicates the nightmarish dimensions of a corruption that is eating the very vitals of Democracy," he said, stressing that PASOK was constantly accusing ND of scandals but the evidence was constantly pointing to PASOK.

    Replying, PASOK MP and head of a cross-party committee for financial control Vangelis Argyris pointed out that Mantelis had also spoken of money shared out among the entire political system and stressed that the former minister would be punished on the basis of a law passed by PASOK, for concealing sources of income in his annual statement of means and assets.

    Communist Party of Greece (KKE) MP Thanassis Pafilis noted that the Mantelis confession and his revelations about kickbacks to politicians were "a small sample of the stink of a rotting capitalist political system" and called for deeper examination of the Siemens scandal.

    Speaking for the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), MP Fotis Kouvelis said the ease with which Mantelis had cynically admitted his actions was because there were no laws to catch and punish those that embezzled public funds.

    [02] Mantelis charged

    Greek authorities on Thursday pressed criminal charges against former transport minister Anastasios Mantelis for legalising income from illegal activity and forbid him from leaving the country. The charges were made based on his admission to a Parliamentary fact-finding committee on Wednesday that he had accepted 200,000 German marks from the Greek branch of the multinational Siemens in the year 1998.

    Mantelis, who had served under the PASOK governments of Costas Simitis in the late '90s and had signed a lucrative deal between the state sector and Siemens for the installation of digital phone centres for the country's state-run telecom company, told the Parliamentary inquiry that the money had been given by Siemens as a campaign contribution that he had not needed to spend. He later used the funds to pay for his children's tuition at a U.S. university.

    Based on his admission and evidence found when the former minister's Swiss bank accounts were opened, Supreme Court prosecutor Ioannis Tentes has asked the head of the Athens appeals court prosecutors Ioannis Sakellakos to initiate procedures against Mantelis and Sakellakos pressed charges against Mantelis on Thursday.

    [03] FinMin in OECD meeting

    Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou briefed his counterparts in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) over the government's initiatives towards fiscal consolidation in the country.

    Speaking to reporters, after an OECD ministerial meeting in Paris on Thursday, Papakonstantinou said he presented the government's measures in drafting of state budgets, a new tax legislation and a series of structural changes in the pension system. These changes, combined with a significant reduction of the fiscal deficit in the first quarter of 2010, were improving the outlook of the Greek economy, offering the ability to produce and export cheaper and better products, he said.

    The Greek minister, on the sidelines of the meeting, met with OECD's officials and discussed tax policy issues, and announced the signing of two significant agreements soon aimed at strengthening efforts to combat tax evasion in the country.

    Commenting on the inspection of the Greek economy by experts of the so-called "troika" from the EU and the IMF, Papakonstantinou said they will focus on the execution of the state budget and implementation of the government's commitments in the framework of a memorandum signed with the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He said that the budget was progressing as scheduled with the deficit shrinking more rapidly than anticipated and noted that based on these facts, no further measures would be needed. He dismissed, again, talk that Greece would reschedule its public debt.


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