Light shed on PPC deals

The government yesterday shielded Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas from claims made by the former president of the Public Power Corporation (PPC) involving him in allegations of corruption at the electricity firm, one of Greece’s largest companies. Yiannis Paleokrassas, who resigned from PPC last Thursday, provided the press yesterday with his side of the events that led to him stepping down from his post. He said that Sioufas had backed senior officials at PPC who made sure that projects were assigned to specific business interests without going through the required tender process. «It is obvious we are talking here about the development minister,» Paleokrassas said. Paleokrassas also said that Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis had put pressure on him to resign due to the influence exerted by Sioufas. Karamanlis had offered Paleokrassas the job at PPC in the first place. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos left no doubt that the development minister had the prime minister’s support. «(Sioufas’s) work ethic, efficiency and absolute dedication is known,» Roussopoulos said. The resignation of Paleokrassas has led to much speculation about claims of corruption within the state-run organization, which has annual revenues of more than 4 billion euros. The ruling conservatives have made much of their efforts to clamp down on corruption, especially within the state sector since being elected last March. Sources said that the incident had a negative impact on the government which could only look on nervously yesterday as Paleokrassas aired PPC’s dirty laundry. Senior government officials, including Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, were reported to have consulted their lawyers over the weekend and were ready to launch legal proceeding in the event of them being named in the corruption scandal. Paleokrassas, who has served as a finance minister under a previous conservative government, also said that some 143 managers in the company have been demoted by senior management for speaking up against PPC’s shady business deals. Opposition parties have been labeling the issue a personal failure for the prime minister. «Mr Karamanlis has been informed, is a participant and responsible for these issues being discussed today,» said PASOK spokesman Nikos Athanassakis.