NEWS

ND backs graft inquiries

New Democracy yesterday said it would support the government’s bid to open fresh parliamentary investigations into five major corruption scandals despite previous suggestions that it would go against PASOK’s wish to look a second time into the property swap between the Vatopedi Monastery and the state. «Over the last few days, there have been rampant rumors about what stance New Democracy will take on the investigative committees,» said party spokesman Panos Panayiotopoulos. «But there is only truth, which we will repeat for the umpteenth time: New Democracy’s position on issues of transparency is unshakable; transparency everywhere and for everyone.» The conservatives had already said they would support PASOK’s efforts 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 Cosmote’s highly costly purchase of the Germanos electrical retail chain. However, last month, ND suggested that it would not support the government’s wish to launch a second parliamentary investigation into the allegedly corrupt exchange of land between the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos and the state. The conservatives said that they would only come out in favor of such a probe if PASOK produced new evidence. Last year, a cross-party parliamentary committee failed to bring corruption charges against any official or politician. However, the inquiry was riddled by infighting between the parties. «Our position is clear,» said Panayiotopoulos yesterday. «We say ‘yes’ to all investigative committees that have already been proposed in Parliament. But we are also clear that we will not allow these probes to draw the attention of the Greek people away from the major problems that the incapability of the government is creating.» ND sources said there is concern within the party about the possibility that former Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will be one of those called to give evidence in the Vatopedi inquiry.