NEWS

Denial of role in monastery deal

Theodoros Roussopoulos, the former spokesman of the previous conservative government, yesterday insisted that he did not play a decisive role in arranging a suspicious real estate exchange between a monastery and the state while he was in office. Roussopoulos appeared before the parliamentary committee investigating allegations that a deal which saw the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athens gain prime properties in exchange for land of a much lesser value cost Greek taxpayers some 100 million euros. The ex-spokesman resigned in October 2008 over allegations that he coordinated the deal, although he admitted that he had a close spiritual relationship with Ephraim, the monk that handled the monastery’s finances. «I never muddled my institutional role with any personal or religious beliefs that I had,» said Roussopoulos. «I never took any action to boost Vatopedi, nor did I neglect my duties.» Roussopoulos added that his personal wealth was the result of his work as a high-profile journalist before he entered politics. He said he would be happy for his finances to be examined to ensure that he was not guilty of any wrongdoing. Another parliamentary committee, investigating allegations that the Greek branch of Siemens paid millions of euros in bribes to Greek officials for state contracts, yesterday decided that it would order an in-depth investigation of all the politicians who served as defense, public order, culture, transport and communications ministers over the last 20 years. As a result, the panel will ask for an extension to its deadline, so it can carry on its work until the end of June.