Speaker may quit over graft charges

Tensions mounted in Parliament on Thursday as an investigation into corruption in public life gathered pace and Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis, one of the most high-profile politicians to come under the microscope, said he was considering resigning following his implication in a multi-billion-euro money-laundering network.

?I am considering resigning,? Meimarakis told reporters, adding that he was willing to provide copies of the origin of wealth (?pothen esches?) declarations he has submitted to authorities since he was first elected an MP in 1989 in a bid to clear his name. The former defense minister called on Nikos Hatzinikolaou, the publisher of the Real News daily that published the allegations linking Meimarakis and two other ex-ministers to money laundering, to do the same. ?I want to know my accuser,? Meimarakis said.

The parliamentary speaker is said to have been particularly angered on Thursday by an appearance by fellow conservative MP and former minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Hatzinikolaou?s morning radio program. Media reports conveyed what appeared to be a tense exchange between the politicians with varying degrees of lurid detail.

Meanwhile the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) reportedly insisted on not forwarding details about the politicians under investigation for graft to Parliament as it said no incriminating evidence has arisen yet.

In a related development, an investigating magistrate probing a massive money-laundering network centered around former socialist Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos gave an extension until October 5 to the latter?s ex-general secretary at the ministry, Yiannis Sbokos, to give his side of the story. Sbokos is being charged with laundering some 80 million euros in kickbacks.

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