Bourse profits

Under pressure from questions on stock market profits, Michalis Neonakis yesterday resigned from the ruling Socialists’ Executive Committee while Stefanos Manikas left his post as minister of state. A Capital Market Commission report submitted in Parliament late on Tuesday by National Economy Minister Nikos Christodoulakis left them with no other option. Although the report had found no «systematic indications of violations,» the figures were devastating. From a political perspective, it makes no sense that Neonakis carried out trade worth 21.8 billion drachmas (60 million euros). Although dwarfed by this amount, Manikas’s 500 million drachmas are by no means insignificant. Aside from the stunning volume of trade by a considerable number of politicians, what is all very hush-hush is who gave these politicians the capital for their stock market games. It is an open secret that politicians often began their career on the Athens bourse with stock that was donated to them by various entrepreneurs, resulting in unholy ties between politicians and businessmen. In the case of Neonakis and Manikas, some have criticized the national economy minister for submitting the Capital Market Commission report, in effect verifying New Democracy’s corruption allegations. They should rather criticize Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who recently provided full cover to the two retired government cadres. Unfortunately, it seems that former Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos’s remarks about leading Socialist cadres who «gave in to the sweet charm of the bourgeoisie» were justified. In any case, the question is not whether PASOK can become more effective in blanketing its wrongdoings. Christodoulakis was right to submit the controversial report to the Parliament. For his part, Simitis was right to ask for the resignations of Neonakis and Manikas, even if this may entail a grave political cost for himself, given that they were both his close aides. Simitis’s ultimate hope is to finally face up to the problems plaguing his government rather than insist that everything is running smoothly. If he really wants to breathe fresh air into his policies, then he must stop turning a blind eye to the problems. Should he fail to do so, more corruption scandals are set to follow.

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