United front starts to crack

Rifts began appearing in the government yesterday over its handling of the Zachopoulos case at the same time it emerged that the co-owner of Proto Thema newspaper Themos Anastasiadis had been found in possession of 1.1 million euros at the Swiss-French border last October. The split in the government’s united front on dealing with the alleged blackmail and attempted suicide of former Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos was sparked by Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis. He had initially caused a stir earlier this week by suggesting that if he was party secretary he would have suspended MP Costas Koukodimos for two months. Koukodimos has been implicated in the affair by journalist and Proto Thema co-owner Makis Triantafyllopoulos, who claims the deputy acted as a messenger for the head of the financial crimes squad, Spyros Kladas. Triantafyllopoulos alleges that Kladas wanted his name kept out of reports about the Zachopoulos affair. New Democracy has decided not to censure Koukodimos after he denied passing on information or acting as a middleman. Meimarakis went even further yesterday, telling reporters that if it was up to him he would also call Kladas «to account.» Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said that Meimarakis was merely pointing out something that was «self-evident.» Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that Anastasiadis, who is under investigation for a deposit of some 5 million euros in his bank account, was stopped by French customs officers on October 29 after the car he was driving was involved in a minor accident. The French authorities informed the financial crimes squad that a search of the car revealed 1.1 million euros in cash (euros and dollars) and bank checks. Anastasiadis insists there is nothing suspicious about the money and accused Kladas of deliberately leaking information to create problems for him. Anastasiadis is likely to face further questioning over the incident. It also emerged yesterday that authorities in Cyprus have been asked to investigate a number of financial transactions he reportedly carried out there.