Leaders’ wealth questions persist

The personal wealth of Greece’s political leaders remained largely unchanged between 2006 and 2007, according to documents made public yesterday, although questions have been raised once again as to whether the checks on politicians’ finances are stringent enough. As is usually the case at this time of year, the source of wealth declarations («pothen esches») of party leaders and MPs are revealed. And, as is also customary, journalists questioned whether the details revealed by a parliamentary committee actually shed any light on how the politicians derived their wealth. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis declared an income of almost 95,000 euros, which is the salary he is paid by the state, and the ownership of six properties in central Athens, the suburb of Filothei, Thessaloniki, Serres and the islands of Kythnos and Myconos. The premier has passed the ownership of the house in Rafina, northeast of Athens, where he resides with his family onto his two young children. PASOK leader George Papandreou declared for 2007 a total income of some 115,000 euros and the ownership of his home in the northern Athens suburb of Nea Erythraia and 50 percent of an apartment in Patra. Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga declared an income of just under 110,000 euros and a 62.5 percent share in an apartment in Exarchia, central Athens. She also had savings of 100 euros. Alekos Alavanos, the head of the parliamentary group of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), remains one of the country’s wealthiest politicians. He declared an income of some 140,000 euros as well as properties on Tinos, in Brussels as well as in Hania and Iraklio on Crete. Alavanos is also shareholder in a family tourist business on Tinos and declared savings of just over 510,000 euros along with his wife. The only pothen esches that showed any major variation was that of Popular Orthodox Rally leader Giorgos Karatzaferis. In 2006, he had declared that he owned 36 properties but on his 2007 form, this number was reduced to 20. It was not clear what happened to the other 16 properties. Karatzaferis declared an income of just under 82,000 euros and, despite reporting a smaller property portfolio, still maintained nine flats in the southern suburb of Palaio Faliro, in the city center, in Mati, northeast of Athens, and in Kallithea. He also owns three plots of grazing land in Arcadia, Katerini and Corinthia. The LAOS leader also reported savings of 57,000 euros with his wife.