Takis Athanasopoulos, head of the Greek privatization fund, resigned March 9 amid breach-of-duty charges filed against him the day before. This marks a setback in the country’s effort to sell assets in order to pay down debt.
“To date there have been almost no privatization revenues even though they have been promised for three years. Why will the next year be any different; it won’t,” writes Mark Grant, an analyst specializing in European financial markets.
Hopes that Greece would meet its $65 billion target of public asset sales to pay down debt suffered another setback Saturday.
Takis Athanasopoulos only had six months in office before he was officially charged with breach of duty March 8 and resigned March 9, Greek newspaper Ekathimerini reports. The charges relate to his tenure on the board of state-controlled Public Power Corporation in 2007.
The company had then commissioned a new power plant which subsequently brought losses of $130 million. The report does not cite bribery or corruption, but recent cases suggest that Greek law enforcement is successfully convicting officials for embezzlement or corruption. In the last two instances, the sentences were tough.
The former mayor of Greece’s second largest city Thessaloniki, Vasilis Papageorgopoulos, was sentenced to a life-term in prison in February. The court ruled he knew that a close employee embezzled $23.4 million and he did nothing to prevent it.
Former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was sentenced to eight years in jail because he failed to properly declare a total of $130,000 in assets from 2006 to 2008.
Ekathimerini says a finance ministry official will take over the privatization-fund post on an interim basis.
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