Party leaders’ assets under microscope

The personal wealth of Greece’s political leaders remained largely unchanged in 2008, according to documents made public yesterday, but questions remain as to whether the annual check on politicians’ finances is comprehensive enough, particularly in a year that many citizens have seen wages and pensions cut. The source-of-wealth declarations («pothen esches») of the country’s party leaders and MPs were revealed yesterday, prompting the usual queries by reporters about whether the details revealed shed enough light on how politicians accumulated their assets. Sources said that many declarations submitted by ministers contained omissions and errors. The party leaders’ declarations included few surprises. Prime Minister George Papandreou declared a 2008 income of 126,205 euros. He also declared the joint ownership of a home in the northern Athens suburb of Nea Erythraia. Papandreou and his wife declared joint savings of just under 50,000 euros. The leader of the main conservative opposition New Democracy party, Antonis Samaras, declared a total income of some 106,982 euros and ownership of two properties – one in central Athens and another in the northern suburb of Kifissia. He declared savings of 390,000 euros. Communist Party (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga was once again the poorest party leader on paper, declaring an income of 90,328 euros and a 62.5 percent share in an apartment in Athens. She declared savings of 400 euros. Alexis Tsipras, head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), declared an income of 21,588 euros, savings of 2,949 euros and the ownership of an apartment in Athens. The richest party leader on paper – in terms of property ownership – was Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) chief Giorgos Karatzaferis. He declared an income for 2008 of 101,783 euros and the ownership of 21 properties. Karatzaferis and his wife declared savings of 156,000 euros. Some former ministers who have faced questioning by parliamentary committees in connection with corruption scandals over the past few years appear to have even greater fortunes than party leaders. Former minister Giorgos Voulgarakis in 2008 declared joint ownership of more than 50 properties with his wife, a key suspect in the Vatopedi land-swap scandal.

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