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Greek state utility ex-management charged with breach of duty
ATHENS, March 8 |
ATHENS, March 8 (Reuters) - An unspecified number of former managers of Greek state utility PPC were charged with breach of duty on Friday for commissioning a power plant that lost the company about 100 million euros ($130 million), a court source said.
PPC commissioned the 250-million euro natural-gas-fired plant at Aliveri in central Greece in October 2007, in a contract signed by then-chief executive Takis Athanasopoulos, who now runs Greece's privatisation agency, HRADF.
"The charges were filed against PPC managers who signed the contract but don't name any individual," the court official said. He said the charges alleged breach of duty, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and that individuals would be named after a further round of investigation.
PPC declined to comment, saying it has not been officially informed of any charges. Athanasopoulos was not immediately available for comment.
The Aliveri plant was completed last year after long delays. Prosecutors alleged PPC should not have signed the contract because it knew it would not be able to link it in time to the natural gas grid, the court official said.
As a result, PPC suffered losses because it had to pay compensation for delays and other fees to the Greek firms METKA and DESFA, which built the power station and the pipeline linking it to the grid. Unnamed METKA managers were also charged, the official said.
Greece has stepped up prosecutions of politicians and businessmen in recent months amid rising public anger against a wealthy elite partly blamed for dragging the country to the brink of bankruptcy.
A prominent former mayor was sentenced to life in prison last month for embezzling funds while a former defence minister was sentenced to eight years for falsely declaring his income.
Criminal charges were also filed this year against the chief of Greece's statistics agency ELSTAT, Andreas Georgiou, who is accused of inflating past deficit figures. Georgiou has denied any wrongdoing and both government officials and the EU statistics agency Eurostat have come to his defence. ($1 = 0.7644 euros) (Reporting by Harry Papachristou; Editing by Jon Hemming)
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