PASOK ready to oust ex-minister over home deal

One of PASOK’s founders and a member of its national council, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, moved a step closer to leaving the party yesterday after appearing before a disciplinary committee in connection to the purchase of prime property in central Athens, in just one of several financial scandals that are rocking the political system. Tsochatzopoulos appeared before PASOK’s transparency committee yesterday to explain how he purchased a three-story home on Dionysiou Aeropagitou Street, at the foot of the Acropolis, for at least 1 million euros from an offshore company just three days before a change in the tax law would have led to the firm having to pay thousands of euros into state coffers. The former MP is being investigated for any possible tax irregularities but the source of his income is also of interest to authorities. Reports about Tsochatzopoulos possibly owning other expensive properties and having extensive links to offshore companies have caused embarrassment for PASOK at a time when the government has been trying to tackle corruption in public life. The party committee is expected to suspend Tsochatzopoulos’s party membership today. However, the veteran politician, who has held seven ministerial posts, attempted to seize the initiative by asking for the suspension himself, although he insisted that he had done nothing wrong. «It goes without saying that I don’t want to burden my party anymore with this matter,» he said after appearing in front of the nine-member panel. «That’s why I’m asking for my party membership to be suspended until the truth shines.» Sources said that PASOK is considering whether to oust Tsochatzopoulos from the party completely, especially if there are more damaging revelations about his finances. However, the Socialists would have a potentially serious obstacle to overcome if they decide on this course of action as it would require the national council, on which Tsochatzopoulos sits, to approve such a move. Meanwhile, the prosecutor investigating the ex-minister’s property deals, Paraskevas Adamis, is set to ask US authorities for details about the offshore firms that Tsochatzopoulos has dealt with in the past. This may lead to the identity of the people involved in those firms being made public. Adamis is keen to discover whether there were any tax irregularities in the deals.