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Page last updated at 01:28 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 02:28 UK

Greek minister loses job over husband's unpaid taxes

By Malcolm Brabant
BBC News, Athens

Angela Gerekou
Ms Gerekou filed joint tax returns with her husband

A tax scandal has led to the dismissal of Greece's deputy tourism minister.

Angela Gerekou was forced to go after a newspaper revealed that her husband, a popular singer, owed more than 5m euros in unpaid taxes and fines.

The revelation was a huge embarrassment for the government, which is forcing millions of Greeks to endure wage and pension cuts and tax rises.

The austerity moves are to pay off a national debt caused, in part, by corruption and tax evasion.

Just days after Greece's socialist government named and shamed 57 doctors for failing to pay their taxes, the left leaning newspaper Eleftherotypia came up with a scoop that shattered the honest image that Prime Minister George Papandreou has been trying to project.

The paper revealed that Tolis Voskopoulos, an aging popular singer owed millions in unpaid taxes, and that he and his wife, Angela Gerekou, the deputy tourism minister and a political protege of Mr Papandreou, had filed joint tax declarations for years.

The conservative opposition demanded that the minister be sacked on moral grounds.

Within hours, Ms Gerekou, a glamorous former film actress had gone.

A government statement claimed she had resigned out of sensitivity and to avoid causing any damage to the government.

The scandal is bound to fuel growing demands for the lifting of parliamentary immunity which protects politicians from prosecution.

It also comes at a time when some analysts have criticised the government's tactics over the tax-avoiding doctors.

One commentator, Nikos Xydakis, writing in the Kathimerini newspaper, condemned the expose as a populist publicity stunt, that would not quell public anger over the unfairness of the austerity measures but would pour more oil on the flames.



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