ATHENS, (Reuters) – Greece’s new anti-corruption minister is not a politician, but he is in tune with the new crusading mood.
International attention on Greece since the Syriza party took over has focused on the leftist government’s fight against an austerity package imposed from abroad.
But Panagiotis Nikoloudis, 65, a supreme court prosecutor and specialist on economic crime, is spearheading another battle declared by Syriza: this one on the home front, against some of the wealthy businessmen who dominate Greek political and economic life.
Speaking to parliament last week, Nikoloudis denounced an elite that included a “handful of families who think that the state and public service exists to service their own interests.”
Such businessmen influence politicians and state officials or abuse their control of the media to unfairly win state contracts, change regulations to their advantage or escape prosecution for illegal conduct, critics say.
Prime Minister Alex Tsipras has announced radical measures aimed at what he calls the “oligarchs”, including re-licensing private TV channels, ending “crony” bank loans for the well-connected, exercising the state’s voting rights in the case of majority shareholdings of private banks, unwinding some key privatisations and aggressive tax audits of those with offshore bank accounts.