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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 13-07-24

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Upward of a half-tonne cocaine found in banana shipment
  • [02] Greek banks must disburse funds to businesses, Commissioner says

  • [01] Upward of a half-tonne cocaine found in banana shipment

    ANA-MPA -- Greek Police on Wednesday announced that an extensive police operation was launched in collaboration with regional police stations, after the discovery of more than 500 kilos of cocaine in a shipment of bananas from Latin America.

    Sources within the police force said the investigation began on Tuesday when a Rhodes merchant found roughly 280 kilos of cocaine in a shipment of bananas that he had ordered and reported the find to the police.

    In a search of the banana importer's warehouses in Athens on Wednesday, Attica drugs squad officers found another 240 kilos of cocaine stashed among the palettes of produce, bringing the total found so far to roughly 520 kilos.

    Police are continuing their investigation to locate other possible recipients in Greece and the European Union, examining manifests of shops that have taken deliveries of the same banana shipment in case more drugs are found. Executives and employees of the import company are also being cross-examined but have so far denied all knowledge of the illegal drugs and there is no evidence to connect them to the cocaine haul.

    The investigation indicates that the drugs were loaded onto containers of bananas in Colombia, with the cargo going through Italian customs and then loaded onto trucks headed for Greece. Investigating officers are examining the possibility that the drugs were meant to go to Italy and ended up in Greece by mistake, though they have not ruled out the possibility that some members of the gang are based in Greece. The Greek Police (ELAS) said an announcement will be made once the investigation is completed.

    (File photo from November 2009: Packages containing 500 kg's worth of cocaine being opened in Greece for weighing and burning at the Halyvourgiki furnaces.)

    [02] Greek banks must disburse funds to businesses, Commissioner says

    ANA-MPA -- The Greek banks should disburse the amounts destined for small and medium-sized enterprises, European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn advised in Athens on Wednesday, following a meeting with Development and Competitiveness Minister Costis Hatzidakis.

    At a press conference, Hahn said the EU had "allocated significant funds for the enterprises that have not reached their payees in full yet." He added, "I am aware of the needs to recapitalise banks, but the funds must go to their final payees," and expressed his satisfaction of the government's initiative in this direction.

    Hatzidakis called on banks to utilize the liquidity instruments they had and make use of the structural funds also, as this was a critical year to do so.

    The two also discussed the state of negotiations for major road projects, the absorption of National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds and the setup of the next phase, and the creation of the Greek Investment Fund.

    Hahn said that the 800 million euros approved recently by the European Commission for road projects in Greece proved that the EU was convinced the projects were viable. Negotiations with the government were expected to be completed by early September, so that the definite budgeting sources of the projects could be ready by the end of the year.

    Although Hahn expressed satisfaction at Greece's improved absorption rate of EU funding from the 18th place in Europe to the 4th and for exceeding the memorandum targets for the first half of the year, Greece had to identify which sectors it wanted to fund in the next NSRF programme.

    These should be sectors in which Greece has an advantage, he said, warning that each ministry cannot submit is own programme. "The infrastructural funds are not a Christmas tree," he said. Hatzidakis said the Greek proposals for the next funding period would be submitted to the EU by end August.

    Commenting on the recent memorandum of cooperation between Greece and the German government-owned development bank KfW on an investment fund for small and medium-sized enterprises, Hahn said that the attraction of capital from countries of Europe and beyond would give another positive indication about Greece's prospects.

    Prior to meeting with Hatzidakis, the European Commissioner met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras at government headquarters, Maximos Mansion. There were no statements following the meeting.


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