Venizelos, Papandreou in dispute over PASOK finances

PASOK’s leader Evangelos Venizelos and the party’s former leader and ex premier George Papandreou were on Tuesday at the center of a dispute over the handling of PASOK’s finances in recent years amid claims by the former that excessive borrowing during the years of Papandreou’s party leadership has left the socialists broke.

Reports of a dispute emerged after a meeting between the two men on Tuesday which lasted 50 minutes. After the meeting both men issued separate statements.

In his statement, Venizelos said that PASOK’s borrowing between 2003 and 2011 reached 116.5 million euros. “This combined with a 90 percent reduction to party funding leaves PASOK with virtually zero subsidies,” he said. He added that it had been necessary to implement stricter rules for financial management and transparency after he replaced Papandreou as PASOK leader in March 2012. Venizelos reportedly felt obliged to ask Papandreou for a meeting due to the latter’s absence abroad over the past few months. Meanwhile sources indicated that he had come under pressure from several PASOK cadres to eject Papandreou from the party due to the apparent financial management that had occurred during his leadership.

For his part, Papandreou issued a statement expressing discontent at recent media reports referring to a black hole of at least 100 million euros in the party’s coffers during his leadership. Papandreou described the reports as “wretched, unacceptable and unethical leaks based on falsehoods and aimed at morally discrediting» him. He added that the reports “intentionally fail to mention that the financial data of PASOK, as that of other parties, has been checked by the competent parliamentary committee which comprises certified accountants.”

Responding to claims that one of his recent trips, to Costa Rica, cost 200,000 euros, sources close to Papandreou said it actually cost 20,000 euros for the entire delegation and that PASOK had not covered the cost of his subsequent trip to Johannesburg.

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