Ministry denies ‘secret’ loan

Members of the government may be called to testify in connection with the bond scandal, sources said yesterday, as the Economy and Finance Ministry denied a press report claiming that Greece’s deficit fell last year due to a «secret» 1-billion-euro loan. The loan, issued by investment bank JP Morgan at the start of December last year, was termed «secret« in the report because it had not been disclosed among funds borrowed by the government’s Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA). Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis confirmed that the government had obtained the money but argued that it was a «credit facility» and not a loan. «Under no circumstances do these accounts change the level or structure of the budget deficit and public debt as they appear in the budget or the state’s balance sheet,» he said. «There is no way to reduce the deficit via a credit facility,» he added. A meeting of EU economy and finance ministers confirmed on Tuesday the lifting of the excessive deficit procedure for Greece. Meanwhile, a prosecutor’s investigation into pension funds purchasing overpriced bonds is continuing with political figures expected to be called to give evidence in coming days, sources said. A Labor Ministry official, Evgenios Papadopoulos, has already been called to testify in the investigation being conducted by prosecutor Antonis Liogas.

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