Two former ministers have defended themselves against accusations that they illegally claimed European Union structural funds to build holiday homes.
Ex-Transport Minister Michalis Liapis (photo), who received a four-year suspended prison sentence last month for driving a car with forged license plates, was accused of using EU money to renovate a property in Evrytania, central Greece.
This allegation was rejected by the Liapis family. The ex-minister’s brother, Markos Liapis, said that the property was originally owned by the two men’s uncle and aunt, who applied 22 years ago for structural funds to help convert their property into a guest house. He said that the property received visitors but the death of the brothers’ uncle led to their aunt not being able to sustain the business on her own. She eventually transferred ownership of the property to the former minister.
“Why should this be unethical for us and not for the other 400 residents of the village who did the same thing?” said Markos Liapis on Monday. “The property operated as a guest house.”
Liapis’s aunt, Vassiliki, also issued a statement through her lawyer saying that she had been the sole beneficiary of the aid and that it had only covered part of the cost needed so the property could operate as a guest house.
Ex-Deputy Merchant Marine Minister Panos Kammenos, who now leads the anti-bailout Independent Greeks party, was also accused of building a holiday home on the island of Icaria with EU subsidies. Speaking on Sunday, Kammenos vehemently denied this and said that the property in question belonged to his mother-in-law, who had claimed the funds to convert it into a 10-room guest house. He said that authorities had checked the property in 2010 and did not find anything amiss.
Kammenos also threatened to sue Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis who made the allegations during a Sunday morning TV show.