‘Scandal’ haunting gov’t

Labor and Social Security Minister Savvas Tsitouridis yesterday accepted scant responsibility for the «scandal» of the sale of overpriced government bonds to social security funds and lobbed the ball of blame back at previous PASOK administrations. «It may be appropriate for us to assume the responsibility for perhaps delaying for three years putting right decades-old ills,» he conceded. In a long press briefing on the issue of the extensive purchase of risky structured government bonds by pension funds in recent years, he dismissed suggestions that the practice was orchestrated by the government, even though 13 such funds were found to have purchased structured bonds within the space of 24 hours, and referred reporters to an ongoing judicial investigation for answers. Tsitouridis has faced strong criticism over his handling of the affair, which has battered the government’s image since the first case of dubious bond purchases, that of the Public Servants’ Supplementary Pension Fund (TAEDY), was reported in mid-March. There have been increasing calls for his resignation, even from his own party. Yesterday, Tsitouridis acknowledged that the government-appointed, non-professional management of TAEDY had been guilty of irregularities, but said such practices had precedents under the PASOK party’s tenure. Tsitouridis went on to accuse PASOK of causing pension funds to lose -3.74 billion in asset value, largely because of stock market bubbles between 1992 and 2002. Sticking to the government line that pension fund managers are accountable to their insured for any mistaken placements of their assets, he dismissed all official responsibility for a series of other overpriced purchases of structured bonds that have come to light. He promised that all records of such transactions will be submitted to Parliament. Of the 199 board members of pension funds, Tsitouridis said he had himself appointed 77.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.