PASOK urges scandal probes

In what appears to be a bid by the government to change the main topic of political discussion, 128 PASOK MPs have tabled requests for Parliament to investigate four of the biggest corruption scandals that have rocked Greece over the last 11 years. In a motion tabled late on Thursday night and another submitted to Parliament yesterday, the Socialist deputies requested that parliamentary committees be set up to investigate the possible involvement of politicians or state officials in the manipulation of share prices between 1999 and 2008, whether any public servants or party representatives accepted bribes from Siemens Hellas, the purchase of structured government bonds by pension funds at allegedly inflated prices and the transfer, against the public interest, of property between the state and the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. The four cases allegedly cost taxpayers, investors and workers hundreds of millions of euros and span periods when both PASOK and New Democracy were in power. The decision by the PASOK MPs to submit the requests comes just after Prime Minister George Papandreou and New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras appeared to agree during a rare meeting of all the parliamentary party leaders that steps had to be taken to combat corruption. Samaras agreed to the launching of fresh investigations into a number of corruption scandals on the condition that a probe into the 1999-2000 stock market bubble was also included. Commentators believe that the requests for new investigations are designed to show that PASOK is taking the initiative in the fight against graft but is also aimed at shifting the spotlight from worrying financial developments. By submitting the motions now, the PASOK deputies are attempting to ensure that the committees are formed in January, when the government will have to adopt some tough economic measures while also tackling Greece’s ailing pension system. The investigations, should they proceed, will not result in any former ministers or MPs facing legal action as the statute of limitations has expired in all cases. The Vatopedi land swap was investigated by a parliamentary committee last year but the majority of deputies on the panel found that no public officials or members of the New Democracy government should face trial.

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