NEWS

Minister rebuffs report he stood to gain money from rehiring civil servants

Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform Giorgos Katrougalos on Monday distributed documents to journalists that he says prove he did not stand to personally profit from rehiring sacked civil servants.

The minister also said he would take legal action against a To Vima journalist who published a story over the weekend that alleged Katrougalos, a lawyer by profession, signed agreements to get jobless civil servants their jobs back right up to the day he was appointed to the cabinet. The report alleges that Katrougalos and his partners at their legal practice stood to gain 12 percent of the civil servants’ salaries if they were reinstated.

Katrougalos was due to hold a news conference on Monday, which would have been his second in three days, to defend himself against accusations of conflict of interest but decided to issue a statement instead so he would not draw attention from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s visit to Berlin. In his statement, the former MEP insisted that he did not stand to gain “a single euro from the outstanding cases involving civil servants who had been fired or placed in a labor reserve.”

Katrougalos insists that he left the legal practice in May last year, when he was elected to the European Parliament on SYRIZA’s ticket, and has not had any dealings with clients since then. He said he has written to the Athens Bar Association to ask for the content of the agreements in question to be made available to anyone who asks for them.

Three municipalities that also cooperated with Katrougalos’s law office issued statements on Monday insisting that he had not dealt with their cases since May.

Opposition parties, however, insisted that the minister’s explanations were not convincing and that he should resign.