NEWS

More Pavlidis confusion

MPs serving on the committee that is investigating former Aegean Minister Aristotelis Pavlidis were left none the wiser yesterday by supplementary testimony from his brother just hours before they are due to deliver their findings to Parliament. Anastassios Pavlidis was called before the 13-man panel for a second time to explain some unusual deposits into his bank account. Bank of Greece experts informed MPs that between 2002 and 2008, businessman Klearchos Routsis paid a total of 325,000 euros into Anastassios Pavlidis’s account. This raised suspicion because all 16 deposits were exactly 15,000 euros or less – deposits of more than 15,000 require the depositor to comply with money-laundering rules. Pavlidis told the deputies that he had given 325,000 euros to Routsis between 2000 and 2001 for a business investment. However, he said, the deal did not go through and Routsis returned the money over the ensuing years. Asked why the repayments were always in amounts of 15,000 euros or less, Routsis said he spent the cash and paid it back whenever he could, adding that he could never remember his tax registration (AFM) number, which is required for larger deposits. This answer caused some raised eyebrows among PASOK’s representatives on the committee, as did Anastassios Pavlidis’s revelation that he had given his brother official authorization to withdraw money from his account. Aristotelis Pavlidis insists that the bank account has nothing to do with allegations by shipowner Fotis Manousis that the ex-minister forced him to pay bribes to be considered for state-subsidized contracts to run ferries to remote islands. Following yesterday’s testimony, PASOK submitted a request for a new committee to be set up to investigate possible breach of duty while Pavlidis was a minister. However, this request is likely to fall by the wayside as all 300 MPs are due to vote on Monday as to whether Pavlidis should have his immunity lifted and face a special court.