NEWS

New trial for DEKA officials?

A Supreme Court prosecutor has recommended the reopening of the case involving the acquisition of shares in state-controlled firms by the State Portfolio Management Agency (DEKA) ahead of the 2000 national elections. Last December, an appeals court cleared DEKA’s former chairman and board members of breach of faith against the public interest, ruling that DEKA was an independent company and that its officials should have been charged with common breach of faith, a charge that comes under a five-year statute of limitations. DEKA’s acts under investigation – a buying spree involving shares in National and Emporiki Banks, state telecoms firm OTE and refinery Hellenic Petroleum – took place between March 9 and April 6, 2000, just before the April 9 national election which the Socialist PASOK party won by a razor-thin margin. DEKA’s buying helped keep the listings’ prices high and the Athens Stock Exchange on a rising trend. After the election, the market nose-dived. In a 25-page report, prosecutor Fotis Makris contends that the appeals court erroneously ruled that DEKA is an independent entity, since it has been explicitly set for managing the state’s portfolio. In doing so, he says, the court overstepped its authority. Ordinarily, Makris’s request for a retrial would be considered by the Supreme Court’s Criminal Section and, if granted, the case would be retried by the Appeals Court, with different judges. In light of the importance of the case, the Supreme Court’s plenary session may be called upon to decide.