Advisers under scrutiny

Improper advice given to the country’s pension funds by banks and brokerages, resulting in financial losses, could constitute grounds for taking legal action against them to recover the lost funds, Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday. In an interview published in Sunday’s Kathimerini, Alogoskoufis said that those found responsible for poor investment decisions would be held liable for damages. «Obviously, whatever losses have arisen is also the responsibility of advisers. This may include any banks involved in the affair,» he said. The recent case of a public servants’ fund overpaying nearly 5 million euros for a state bond also highlights «the clash of interests between banks and small brokerages,» according to the minister. The findings of a government probe into the overpriced bond are expected this week in an issue that has raised numerous questions and led to allegations that inexperienced or even corrupt officials were handling billions of euros belonging to workers’ pension funds. Alogoskoufis refused to accept that the government should shoulder blame for the scandal. «In this entire matter, the government and officials have been politically responsible,» the minister said. Agapios Simeoforidis, the head of the Civil Servants’ Auxiliary Pension Fund (TEADY) that purchased the bond, has since stepped down but the conservative government has avoided blaming any particular political figure for the scandal. The affair does not appear to have hurt the government’s popularity, according to the results of a poll published yesterday. A survey commissioned by Skai showed the conservatives were holding onto a 3.5 percent lead over PASOK with respect to voter intentions in the next national election. Of those polled, 73 percent said they believed some people had made unlawful gains in the bond affair while just over 40 percent placed blame on the government.

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