Unsettled accounts

The political pressure for an investigation into the foreign bank accounts through which business tycoon Socrates Kokkalis is suspected of having funneled funds to recipients in Greece and elsewhere continued to grow yesterday, with the leader of the official opposition demanding that the government assist the judiciary in opening the accounts. «The government ought to help the judiciary and every other authority to open up the accounts which cropped up in the preliminary judicial probe, as the president of the Left Coalition, Nikos Constantopoulos, rightly proposes,» New Democracy party leader Costas Karamanlis said. Constantopoulos, who made the proposal on Wednesday, met yesterday with President Costis Stephanopoulos to discuss the situation in light of the criminal charges filed against Kokkalis over the last two weeks. Kokkalis is accused of espionage on account of East Germany, fraud, money laundering, bribery and other charges. He has said the allegations are groundless and are a plot by his political enemies. The judiciary has not asked for the accounts to be opened. Prime Minister Costas Simitis’s appearance in Parliament today is keenly awaited. Government spokesman Christos Protopappas suggested indirectly that the Justice Ministry would help investigators if they ask for the foreign accounts to be opened. «We all know very well the procedures that our legal system foresees, so there is no reason for us to discuss the obvious and create impressions for petty political benefits,» he said. Welcoming Constantopoulos to the Presidential Palace, Stephanopoulos said within reporters’ earshot, «I have read your proposals and want to discuss them with you.» Sources said that during the meeting the president showed great interest in the revelations of the last few days. These include a report by the German Parliament which concluded in 1998 that Kokkalis had been a secret agent for the East German security apparatus from 1963 to 1968 and had remained in contact with the Stasi secret service periodically after that, until the collapse of East Germany in 1989. Kathimerini reported in 1996 that accounts at the Handelsbank, which Kokkalis had the authority to draw on, were used to send millions of dollars and marks to named and unnamed recipients. A judicial probe into the accounts ended when charges were dropped on another case in which Kokkalis was accused. Leaving the Presidential Palace, Constantopoulos called on the government not to «play the part of Pontius Pilate.»

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