The considerable upgrade and enhancement of the powers of the Greek Capital Market Commission (CMC) in recent years now make it a fully effective stock market watchdog, CMC President Stavros Thomadakis said in his last report before retiring after eight years in office yesterday. «The Greek capital market meets all the prerequisites for progress today and I believe that 2004 and coming years will vindicate the expectations for progress,» he said. Thomadakis, whose term expires next month, said the last eight years were full of challenges and tribulations, witnessing the biggest international cycle of stock market overheating and recession in the last seven decades. He noted the unprecedented growth in the number of investors on the Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) which started when the CMC still had only three staff members in a small office. Thomadakis said stock market developments in 2003 refuted the prophets of doom and those who warned that the new regulations were not compatible with recovery. He said the extensive reform process in Greece which was intensified after 1999 was in line with trends and institutional changes in the rest of Europe, aimed at promoting transparency and the protection of investors. He rejected charges of responsibility for the downfall of the stock market after the peak of September 1999. «We have been a target of attacks, accusations, defamation campaigns and easy demagogues… We will be judged on what we leave behind,» he said. Replying to similar charges on Monday, Thomadakis said he had done everything humanly possible to ensure the smooth running of the stock market during his term. The danger that the culprits to blame for irregularities and scandals would go unpunished could only be effectively prevented by changing the designation of such violations from misdemeanors to criminal offenses, he added. The CMC’s 200-page report for 2003 lays out the watchdog’s legislative and overseeing work and contains extensive statistical data on the Greek stock market. The ASE general price index closed the year 29.5 percent higher than in 2002, at 2,263.6 points. The CMC imposed a total of 9.4 million euros in fines for violation of stock market regulations and filed for penal charges against a considerable number of individuals and organizations.