NEWS

Milk inquiry speeded up

The findings of an investigation by the Competition Commission into possible price fixing in the dairy industry will be prepared more than a month ahead of schedule as speculation grows regarding the background behind this week's corruption allegations. Sources said that the commission's examination of the industry will be ready in 10 days rather than the early November deadline originally set. The government will be keen to shed light on the sector that has given birth to one of the country's largest state corruption cases. Dairy company Mevgal informed the Competition Commission earlier this week that it was being asked for a 2.5-million-euro bribe from one of its officials to avoid slapping it with a 25-million-euro fine. The commission's director, Panayiotis Adamopoulos, along with two accomplices, were arrested and charged with blackmail on Tuesday in response to the allegations. The news has given way to questions as to whether the alleged blackmailers had approached others in the dairy industry. «My guess is that they did not just approach us (for a bribe),» Mevgal's legal adviser, Kriton Metaxopoulos, told Skai Radio. No other dairy firm has come forth with claims that it has been approached for a kickback. Police said that they are investigating all cases handled by Adamopoulos since he took up his position in November 2005. The dairy industry was the subject of an investigation by the competition watchdog in 1997. Claims that Greece has the highest priced dairy products in the European Union have fueled rumors that companies in the sector are not allowing the market to operate efficiently. Meanwhile, the government is measuring the fallout from news of the corruption scandal which is considered to be mixed. Political analysts expect the bribery revelations to provide the government with political points in the long term, as it has made the fight against corruption one of its key policies. «Whenever such incidents appear, they will be met efficiently. This was not done for many years in the past. Whoever is involved will suffer the consequences as dictated by the law,» said alternate government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros.

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