PM’s office backs minister over reports he signed contracts to rehire sacked staff

Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform Giorgos Katrougalos described press reports over the weekend according to which he signed private contracts with dismissed civil servants foreseeing him pocketing 12 percent of the workers’ salaries as “fraudulent” and “provocative” and received the backing of the Maximos Mansion.

According to a report in To Vima newspaper, Katrougalos had signed several contracts in his capacity as a lawyer in 2014 which stipulated that he would receive a chunk of the sacked civil servants monthly salaries in the event that he secured their rehiring.

During a press conference on Saturday evening, the minister called the report “unsubstantiated” and “slanderous.” He said that he left the law office in question in June 2014, after he was elected to the European Parliament, set up his own law office in July 2014 and stopped practicing law when he was sworn in as minister on January 27 of this year.

Katrougalos declared that he would resign immediately if the allegations are even partially true. Meanwhile the report fueled a new war of words between SYRIZA and the main opposition New Democracy.

In a statement, the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras threw its support behind Katrougalos, saying the report is based on lies. It noted that Katrougalos was not elected to parliament in January; that he had been an MEP since May 2014 before being appointed minister. The statement conceded that Katrougalos had signed contracts with some schoolguards before the European Parliament elections in 2014 but that the total fee he had sought would have been less than one month’s salary as an MEP and that if the school guards were rehired by law there would be no payment. Further, the document published by To Vima pertained to the case of one employee of the Salamis Naval Base who had a salary dispute with the employer and had nothing to do with laid off civil servants.

Finally, the statement notes that the article reports one truth: that Katrougalos called an open meeting with all sacked civil servants immediately after his appointment to tell them they would be reinstated and that no private meetings will be held. Katrougalos said the meeting was conducted with complete transparency and the presence of the media.

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