Alogoskoufis hopes FDI not affected by corruption case

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday he hoped foreign direct investment would not be deterred by a high-profile domestic corruption case, particularly since Athens was serious about tackling corruption. A day after the director of Greece’s competition watchdog was sent to jail pending trial in one of the country’s biggest corruption cases, Alogoskoufis told Reuters the government was intent on sending a clear anti-graft message. «It is important that this issue was unveiled by the government and… it is important that these issues are dealt with effectively so that we give a clear signal that we are not going to tolerate this kind of behavior from public officials,» he said on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank meetings. Panayiotis Adamopoulos, director of the independent Competition Committee, a consumer protection agency, is charged with demanding a bribe of 2.5 million euros ($3.18 million) from a dairy company. Suspended from his post, he has denied any wrongdoing. Alogoskoufis, asked if he thought the case risked deterring foreign direct investors, said: «I hope not. It was revealed early on, it was not allowed to continue and I hope that from now we will not have similar occurrences.» Greece is ranked by the Transparency International watchdog as the most corrupt in the 12-nation eurozone and the government is on a drive to change things. «Transparency International has been rating Greece low on these issues for a number of years and one of our concerns is to change this rating,» Alogoskoufis said. «It won’t happen from day one. We realize that you need to take a number of steps. But we have been quite active in making our legislation, both our tax legislation and our regulation legislation, more transparent, simple and objective so that we don’t leave a lot of scope for discretionary behavior.» Turning to the competition watchdog, he said it was vital it got on with its job with its credibility intact. «What is important for us now is to make sure that the work of the Competition Commission is not jeopardized by this affair and the credibility, of course, of the commission.»