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Greek economy minister quits after wife caught in benefit row

FILE PHOTO: Dimos Papadimitriou attends the launching of an equity fund in cooperation with the European Investment Bank, in Athens, Greece, December 22, 2016. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece’s Economy and Development Minister Dimitri Papadimitriou has resigned, an aide said on Tuesday, a day after his wife, a deputy labour minister, also quit in a row over a housing allowance.

With three posts - that of a minister and two junior ministers now vacant - the move is likely to trigger a mini cabinet reshuffle.

Papadimitriou, whose remit involved promoting Greece abroad for investment projects, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday night “for reasons of political sensitivity,” an economy ministry official told Reuters.

Tsipras accepted the resignation and thanked Papadimitriou for his services, a statement from the Prime Minister’s office said.

On Monday, Papadimitriou’s wife, Rania Antonopoulou, resigned after disclosures she had drawn a housing allowance despite extensive personal wealth.

Although there was nothing untoward about claiming the benefit, it touched a nerve in a country that has suffered the effects of a debilitating financial crisis and where a third of the population lives in poverty.

Papadimitriou and Antonopoulou shared the apartment in an upscale neighborhood of Athens on which she claimed the rent allowance, from which she has offered to return some 23,000 euros.

Proto Thema, the newspaper that made the disclosure on Sunday, described them as the “richest couple in government”.

The benefit that Antonopoulou claimed is extended to members of government whose main residence is outside Athens.

Reporting By Renee Maltezou and George Georgiopoulos, Writing by Michele Kambas; editing by John Stonestreet