New focus on MPs’ stock deals

As the ruling Socialists and the main opposition party exchanged taunts yesterday over MPs’ potentially questionable transactions during the 1999 stock exchange bubble, a parliamentary committee heralded a wide-ranging probe into the share deals of all deputies – and several other politicians – from 1998-2003. The committee that monitors MPs’ annual asset and funds-source (pothen esches) declarations said it would ask the Capital Markets Committee for data on the share transactions of all deputies, Cabinet ministers and party treasurers between December 31, 1997 and December 31, 2002, in an attempt to pinpoint evidence of insider trading ahead of the 2000 market crash. The parliamentary committee said it had taken the initiative «after the matter of the investigation of deputies’ stock transactions was brought up again, and in view of the exposure it got on a political level and the response of the public.» A deadline imposed by Prime Minister Costas Simitis for PASOK MPs to table details of their stock deals with parliamentary authorities expired on Monday night. Yesterday, government spokesman Christos Protopappas said the process ended «without hitch,» and dared New Democracy to follow suit. «It was a particularly important act, a political gesture and a transparency offensive,» he said. «Now, it is the other parties’ turn. New Democracy in particular bears a great political responsibility.» But ND spokesman Thodoris Roussopoulos accused the government of making a big fuss about nothing. «The transactions [declared by PASOK MPs] are already known to Parliament from their pothen esches declarations,» he said. «[On Monday, the government] completed its campaign to cover up the great stock market scandal.»

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