Build-up to OEK probe begins

Labor Minister Panos Panayiotopoulos yesterday presented to the Supreme Court newspaper reports alleging that the former head of the Workers’ Housing Organization (OEK) had demanded bribes to pay a contractor and asked that prosecutors investigate the claims. But Panayiotopoulos denied that the government – and especially the prime minister – had any prior knowledge of claims by businessman Prodromos Emfietzoglou that OEK President Angelos Economopoulos had demanded a kickback before paying the contractor for work his firm had done for the housing association. The claims were made public Saturday and Economopoulos resigned on the same day. Sources told Kathimerini that any probe is likely to look at the possibility that some contractors were overcharging for their work, with the approval of OEK officials. But the former OEK head said yesterday that the allegations were «false and groundless.» «I resigned for reasons of sensitivity and to help the minister and the government,» said Economopoulos, who accused his enemies of targeting him for political reasons ahead of an «expected reshuffle.» OEK is responsible for the allocation and maintenance of housing for low-income workers. The organization was in charge of handing out homes at the Olympic Village to eligible families. Emfietzoglou’s firm was one of those involved in the construction of the village, which housed athletes during last year’s Olympics.