Damning Rhodes hotel inquiry

A Rhodes prosecutor has found that Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis and the deputy ministers for finance and development broke the law in leasing a stretch of public beach on the island to a Cypriot hotel entrepreneur, sources said yesterday. An investigation by prosecutor Giorgos Economou found that Christodoulakis, along with Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis and Deputy Development Minister Dimitris Georgakopoulos, signed a joint ministerial decision last year under which 2,500 square meters of beach at the Kolimbia resort, on the island’s northeastern coast, were leased to the businessman for 125,000 euros. Judicial sources said Economou has established that the three government officials broke the law in signing the decision – which allowed the extension of a beach hotel. According to the same sources, the section of beach leased to the entrepreneur included a streambed, on which it would have been illegal to build. The Dodecanese section of the State Property Agency (KED) decided to change the plot’s official classification, to permit construction. However, an investigation ascertained that this was done illegally, and the head of the local KED department was charged with breach of duty and fraud. All this was allegedly brought to the attention of the Economy Ministry in February 2003. But instead of revoking the KED decision, the joint ministerial decision was issued. This document not only legalized the lease, but also allowed the businessman the option of paying the 125,000-euro lease in 10 installments, at a 7 percent rate of interest. Rhodes is one of Greece’s most popular tourist resorts.