Ongoing investigators into a myriad of corruption cases in Greece are being turned over to new special prosecutors after the two men handling them, Spyros Mouzakitis and Grigoris Peponis – who had ruffled feathers with their aggressive stance against wrongdoing – decided to step aside, declining an offer to stay in their jobs.
Mouzakitis and Peponis have been criticized by government officials in the past for some of the investigations they have launched. In December 2011, the prosecutors threatened to resign after claiming of outside interference in their work.
Last month, the Supreme Court appointed two top judicial officials to the newly-created posts of Corruption Prosecutors to try to get through a tack of scandals involving alleged graft and mismanagement of public money that have been repeatedly tied up in political and court delays, including the probe into the so-called Lagarde List of 2,062 Greeks with $1.95 billion in secret Swiss bank accounts that haven’t been checked for tax cheats.
Also in limbo is an investigation into the failure of the ruling New Democracy Conservatives of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and one of his coalition partners, the PASOK Socialists to pay back 250 million euros ($324.7 million) in bank loans while they are requiring Greeks who’ve had their pay cut, tax hikes and pensions slashed to pay their loans, credit cards and mortgages. The government has also passed a bill giving immunity to bank officers who gave them the loans without collateral.
First Instance Court prosecutor Eleni Raikou has taken the prosecutor’s post in Athens while Appeals Court prosecutor Argyris Dimopoulos was appointed in Thessaloniki. Raikou played a key role in getting former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos to face justice for millions of euros in kickbacks he is alleged to have pocketed from defense contracts.
Raikou’s new job is to go after state officials found to have mismanaged state money although prosecutions and jail sentences for political scandals and even embezzlement had been infrequent in Greece until the government began a crackdown that led in one case to a former mayor of Thessaloniki being sent to jail.