The ghost of corruption

It’s truly amazing how the otherwise well-intentioned and honorable government of Costas Karamanlis has managed to assume the burden of the mistakes, omissions and alleged scandals of its Socialist predecessors. Instead of slamming PASOK for having squandered state funds, pundits have the conservatives under fire for revising the deficit and for being dragged into a row with the European Commission. Instead of sending the stock market robbers and contractors to court to establish whether state officials greased palms in order to obtain favorable contracts, the conservatives are now apologizing for dragging their feet on infrastructure projects. Shortly before his death, PASOK founder Andreas Papandreou said: «Had I sent two or three right-wing politicians to jail when I came to power, none of my cadres would have dared steal [money from the state coffers].» Before the elections, Karamanlis hammered away at the Socialists, accusing them of sleazy deals, and the lavish lifestyle of many leading PASOK figures. Former National Bank of Greece chairman Theodoros Karatzas once told me: «It’s not that they steal which irritates me most about them, but that they try to show off their wealth.» So whatever happened to all the loot, Prime Minister? Has all of it escaped to offshore companies? And if you can’t net the ringleaders why don’t you, at least, indict some of the contractors? Former New Democracy leader Miltiades Evert, who has spearheaded a campaign to probe the stock market bubble, recently related the story of an Economy Ministry official who, when called for the first time to give evidence, allegedly cracked and was ready to spill all. Having heard he would be let off along with other politicians, he has become more audacious. God help us!

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