Conflict of interest forces out minister

Prime Minister Costas Simitis yesterday demanded – and received – the resignation of Deputy Public Order Minister Vangelis Malesios after it emerged that the minister was living, without paying rent, in an apartment owned by a businessman with significant dealings with the State, including a contract to provide security for the Athens 2004 Olympics. For the sake of appearances, the government announced that Malesios had resigned «out of sensitivity.» Earlier, Malesios had confirmed that he was living in an apartment owned by Athanassios Athanassoulis, owner of the Altec computer firm and Alter Television. This followed a front-page headline in the Avriani daily newspaper proclaiming, «Deputy Minister Malesios is living for free in Athanassoulis’s villa.» The paper is owned by Giorgos Kouris, who is in a judicial battle with Athanassoulis over the television station that they started together. The paper claimed Malesios had helped a consortium in which Altec is involved to win the bid to provide security for the Olympics. Sources said Simitis did not believe this was the case, as the contract was awarded unanimously by the Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA). But he was outraged by his minister’s injudicious behavior. Malesios accused Kouris of lying, saying he would go to court to clear his name. Government sources said yesterday that Athanassoulis’s firm was no longer involved in the SAIC consortium which is slated to provide security for the Olympics.