Alternate Minister for Administrative Reform George Katrougalos on Saturday attributed a media report accusing him of taking advantage of his post to rehire clients he had when he worked as a lawyer to efforts to undermine the work of the government.
According to a news report published in Greek daily To Vima on Saturday, Katrougalos, who worked as a lawyer for a private firm before he was elected in the last national elections, signed just before the elections private agreements with civil servants who had been laid off or suspended by the previous government. These agreements stipulated that he would receive a 12 pct commission of the gross amount which would be awarded to them by courts if they won the case.
Katrougalos strongly denied any wrong doing, saying that he resigned from the legal firm he worked for after he was elected as MEP and has not taken up any similar case since then, nor has he drafted any similar agreements. He also notes in a statement that since he became minister, he has chosen not to have any personal contact with his former clients.
"My political and legal activity always had the same aim, to defend rights and the Constitution. In the past five years, I handled many cases related to the memorandum, most of them with little or no legal fees: port privatisations, the PSI robbery, the illegal appointment of the administration in HRADF [privatization agency], the civil mobilization of employees in the metro and many others, among which the civil servants who were suspended," Katrougalos said in a statement.
He explained that legal fees were only paid when the trial took place in civil courts and other lawyers were involved, which would only be paid if the ruling was favourable. "But I don't expect a personal fee from any of these cases because these amounts would be received from the firm I worked in until the European elections," he noted.
"Since my election as MEP I left the company and I have never taken up any such case neither have I drafted any agreement," he said.
The minister also said that to clarify his position to his former clients, once elected in his current post, he invited them to an open event where he announced how they would be reinstated. He also told them he would have no private meetings or discussions over the phone with any of his former clients.
Katrougalos also said he believes the report is aimed at "harming my personal honour and reputation" and at undermining the government's efforts for essential changes and "that's why it was brought up as soon as the draft bill for streamlining public administration was submitted for public consultation."