Ex-ministers eyed in bond probe

Two ex-ministers are likely to be investigated by Parliament in connection with a scandal involving a 280-million-euro government bond sold to pension funds at an allegedly inflated price that rocked the conservative government three years ago. Christos Protopappas, the head of the panel of MPs that conducted a preliminary probe into the affair, said yesterday that former Labor Minister Savvas Tsitouridis and former Economy Minister Petros Doukas are likely to be investigated further. «The responsibilities of two people have to be looked into further by the preliminary investigative committee,» said the PASOK MP. «Mr Doukas will be investigated over the issuing of the bond and Mr Tsitouridis over a series of oversights.» Doukas said that two other members of the New Democracy government in 2007, then Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis, have been deemed to have only «political responsibilities» rather than having committed any criminal offenses. A probe was launched into the sale of the structured bond in 2007 after it emerged that four pension funds had bought it at an allegedly inflated price after it had been traded by several brokerages and banks. The affair had threatened to destabilize the New Democracy government before the September 2007 general elections. In June 2007, investment bank JP Morgan agreed with the pension funds to buy back the bond after the government promised to compensate them for interest they would have earned had the money been placed in a central bank deposit instead. The parliamentary probe will undoubtedly anger New Democracy, which walked out of the first stage of the House’s probe in September, accusing PASOK of intentionally trying to damage the opposition party rather than genuinely finding any guilty parties. Doukas, in particular, will be angered as he was also indicted earlier this month over his alleged role in the Vatopedi Monastery land swap. The ex-minister has denied any wrongdoing in both affairs.