Following reports that two Greek ex-ministers wrongly used European Union subsidies to build or renovate vacation homes, a nationwide probe has begun into how the monies were being used.
Financial prosecutor Panayiotis Athanasiou has ordered a counterpart in the region of Evrytania, central Greece, to conduct a preliminary investigation into the circumstances under which the family of former Transport Minister Michalis Liapis allegedly transformed a holiday home in the area into a guesthouse following allegations that the family used European structural funds to renovate the property.
The family of the former minister – who received a four-year suspended prison sentence last month for driving a car with forged license plates – has denied the allegations and claims that the property was run as a guesthouse by his aunt, who bequeathed the property to Liapis when her husband died.
The Evrytania prosecutor will investigate the terms under which the EU funding was granted and how the money was used.
Supreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani sent a circular to all appeals court prosecutors in Greece ordering them to conduct their own investigations into how European Community and state funding was disbursed and used in their areas of jurisdiction to ascertain whether subsidies were used as intended. EU subsidies, particularly in farming in Greece, have been accused of widespread fraud and misuse.
Koutzamani said that anyone who violated the terms of the subsidy programs under which they received funding will have to return the money to the state.
Ex-Deputy Merchant Marine Minister Panos Kammenos, who now leads the anti-bailout Independent Greeks party, was also accused of building a holiday home on the island of Icaria with EU subsidies.
Kammenos vehemently denied this and said that the property in question belonged to his mother-in-law, who had claimed the funds to convert it into a 10-room guest house. He said that authorities had checked the property in 2010 and did not find anything amiss.
Kammenos also threatened to sue Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis who made the allegations during a Sunday morning TV show.