An investigating magistrate is to be assigned the task of looking into claims of embezzlement and financial mismanagement at the Municipality of Thessaloniki following a two-year probe by a lower-ranking judicial official, sources said yesterday. The initial investigation has revealed that the municipal coffers had a deficit of 51.4 million euros and that 24 people are suspected of having been responsible for the shortfall. Those suspected include heads of departments and high-ranking municipal officials, as well as regular local government employees. So far, one municipal employee has been jailed for embezzlement after admitting to stealing 1 million euros. Outgoing Mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos has denied any wrongdoing. He recently had a public row with his soon-to-be successor, Yiannis Boutaris, who questioned the accuracy of the municipality’s budget figures.