NEWS

Athens 2004 auditing probe

An Athens prosecutor yesterday launched an urgent investigation into claims, by two dismissed former auditors that Athens 2004 officials mismanaged the Olympic organizing committee’s funds. The government and Athens 2004 denied any wrongdoing, although government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos admitted that a full audit report will not be available until the end of next year. Retired judges Giorgios Kokolakis and Panayiotis Paraskevopoulos, former chairman and member, respectively, of the three-member audit committee for Athens 2004, claim to have been removed from their positions because they blew the whistle on alleged misuse of funds by the Games organizers. The two, who were replaced in July following a government decision that only serving judges could hold Athens 2004 audit committee positions, alleged that contracts with major Olympic sponsors were either signed with great delay, which worked to the disadvantage of the organizing committee, or were never signed. The retired judges also claimed that several contracts worth over 1.47 million euros were carried out before signatures could officially be appended, which ensured that it was impossible to check the deals in advance. These allegations were included in a report originally due to have been tabled at the beginning of the year, but delayed by the March Parliamentary elections until the end of April. Athens 2004 had a budget of nearly 2 billion euros. Roussopoulos said yesterday that the report referred to the 2001-2002 period, and had concluded that the organizing committee’s financial management was in full accordance with the law.