DEKA trial gets green light

The former chairman and board members of the Public Portfolio Management Company (DEKA) will stand trial after a council of judges, in a decision made public yesterday, ruled that they should face charges of involvement in an alleged stock manipulation in the runup to the 2000 general election. The Athens Council of Appeals Court Judges ruled that former DEKA chairman Ioannis Kousoulakos and five other former board members will be indicted for breach of faith and complicity in breach of faith. It also recommended that they be tried on criminal charges stemming from the law on the embezzlement of public funds. Between March 9 and April 10, 2000 DEKA, which is dependent on the Finance Ministry, went on a buying spree, during which it mainly purchased shares in National Bank of Greece, Commercial Bank (now Emporiki), OTE telecoms and ELPE state refineries. The move gave the troubled stock market a liquidity boost in the buildup to the April 9 polls, in which the socialist PASOK party won re-election by a narrow margin. After that election the companies’ share values dropped, by which DEKA sustained losses of some 244 billion drachmas (717 million euros). The state has since substantially reduced its stake in these firms. The conservative New Democracy party, which was then in opposition, accused the government of manipulating the stock exchange to secure the votes of hundreds of thousands of small investors trapped after the 1999 stock bubble. All six men deny the charges, claiming that the state portfolio actually profited by hundreds of millions of drachmas from the transactions. The council’s ruling does not call for any politicians to be put on trial over DEKA’s dealings.

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