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Greek ministerial couple step down after housing subsidy scandal

Greek ministerial couple step down after housing subsidy scandal

Two government ministers have resigned in quick succession after public outcry over a Cabinet housing allowance. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is set to find replacements for the affluent married couple.

Greece’s economy and development minister has resigned hours after his wife quit as deputy labor minister in response to a housing stipend row.

Dimitri Papadimitriou handed in his resignation to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday night “for reasons of political sensitivity,” an Economy Ministry official told Reuters news agency.

Papdimitriou’s wife, Rania Antonopoulou, stepped down after Greek media reported she had accepted a €1,000 ($1,200) monthly housing allowance for an apartment she shared with Papdimitriou in an expensive Athens neighborhood.

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Antonopoulou was eligible to apply for the allowance as a cabinet member whose primary residence was outside of Athens. The couple’s main home is in the US, where they had been working as scholars before joining the Greek government in 2015 and 2016.

Despite the absence of any wrongdoing, the disclosure sparked national criticism. Greece is recovering from a severe financial crisis and a third of the population lives in poverty.

US tax filings from 2015 showed that Antonopoulou owned $340,000 and Papadimitriou around $2.7 million worth of stocks.

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“It was never my intention to insult the Greek people,” Antonopoulou said, adding that she would return around €23,000 drawn from the housing allowance over two years.

The government said it would end the housing allowance. Tsipras is also reportedly set to reshuffle his Cabinet on Thursday to fill the two vacant posts.

Papadimitriou was responsible for attracting foreign investment to Greece and Antonopoulou worked on reducing unemployment.

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Deutsche Welle

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