Probe into former ministers to be intensified

Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes on Tuesday ordered the acceleration of an investigation into politicians and public figures linked to corruption amid reports implicating at least three conservative ex-ministers in a money-laundering network worth billions of euros.

Prosecutor Popi Papandreou has undertaken the investigation into claims brought against former Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, former Transport Minister Michalis Liapis and Evangelos Meimarakis, who asked on Tuesday to be replaced as parliamentary speaker for the duration of the probe.

All three politicians swiftly rebuffed the claims, with Liapis and Voulgarakis reportedly suing Real News, the newspaper which reported their alleged involvement, for defamation.

The three are to be summoned for testimony in the coming days by Papandreou, who has been probing claims against them since March and now has access to their bank account details.

The claims were made even earlier, in late 2011, by two contractors, Iosif Livanos and Giorgos Zografakis, who allegedly accused the three ex-ministers of being involved in money laundering with rival contractor Ioannis Carouzos.

Subsequent testimony given by Carouzos and his employees to officials of the Financial Crime Squad (SDOE) failed to yield substantial evidence.

SDOE officials then continued their investigation into claims of tax evasion and financial crimes among entrepreneurs. That probe yielded a report, submitted to prosecutors on Tuesday, allegedly linking shipowner Victoras Restis to 31 million euros in tax evasion.

On Tuesday, a team of prosecutors briefed Tentes on a list of 32 politicians and public figures alleged to be implicated in cases of corruption.

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