NEWS

Political storm over stock probe

A political storm over alleged stock manipulation by the government in the runup to the elections last year intensified yesterday after an Athens prosecutor’s probe into the dealings of the state portfolio company DEKA was made public. The probe by prosecutor Dimitris Asprogerakas called on Parliament to probe further whether politicians were liable for criminal acts in connection with the case. The probe into the period preceding the April 9, 2000, elections also blames the executive board of DEKA and the Capital Markets Commission of breach of faith to state expense because they allegedly did not prevent the pre-electoral intervention leading to stock manipulation and misleading investors. The report speaks of the improper selling of shares and damaging DEKA’s interests. The government charged that Asprogerakas had distorted evidence, leading to baseless and slanderous conclusions and accusedhim of displaying political expediency. This is not the transfer of evidence and charges, as the law demands, but expands into unacceptable evaluations, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said of the report that was presented to Parliament. He called the opposition New Democracy party, which had prompted the probe, irresponsible and damaging to institutions and attempting to get judicial officials involved in its political games. New Democracy called for a parliamentary inquiry. The possible criminal responsibility of politicians would suggest Finance Minister Yiannos Papantoniou and then Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis. Security at the US Embassy and other likely targets of terrorism remained tight, as well as at Athens Airport. No flights departed for the United States again yesterday. Security at the US naval base at Souda Bay Crete was at Threat Condition Delta, the highest possible alert, the base said.