Top politician steps down on allegations

Top politician steps down on allegations

ATHENS - Agence France-Preszse
Top politician steps down on allegations

Greek Parliament Speaker Meimarakis faces money laundering allegations. EPA photo

Greece’s parliament speaker has said he would step down temporarily pending a judicial investigation into claims of money-laundering allegedly involving dozens of senior politicians.

Parliament speaker Evangelos Meimarakis “will summon his deputies to announce that they are to temporarily replace him until the investigation report is issued,” his office said.

Meimarakis, a former defense minister and ex-secretary of the conservative New Democracy party, was named in a weekend report among the politicians who allegedly used real estate purchases to launder several billion euros from 2005 to 2008.

The parliament speaker and two other conservative ex-ministers named in the Real News daily report deny any wrongdoing.

One of the ex-ministers, George Voulgarakis, had resigned in 2008 after his wife was implicated in a controversial land swap between the state and an influential Orthodox monastery.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras last week said the ministry’s fraud squad was investigating 32 cases involving the holdings and tax declarations of politicians, local council administrators and other senior public servants.

Separately, Greek unions prepared to bring the country to a strike standstill Wednesday as IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned that delays in reforming the economy were creating a growing financial shortfall.

Third walkout of the year

Civil servants, teachers, lawyers, sailors and other professionals across the country have been called by their respective unions to the 24-hour walkout, the third this year against planned new cutbacks.
“S0S - save the country, but above all its people,” the leading union confederations the GSEE and ADEDY said in posters strung from lamp-posts across the capital. “Salaries, pensions and benefits have been cut again and again for 2.5 years and the ‘monster’ of the debt and deficits remains invincible, constantly demanding new sacrifices,” the unions said in a statement. IMF chief Christine Lagarde said on Sept. 24 warned that the delays in implementing Greece’s bailout program, including privatizations, had expanded the country’s financing shortfall.