Former junior minister says he received rent subsidy, pledges to return it

Former alternate finance and then alternate foreign minister Dimitris Mardas said on Tuesday he had also received the housing allowance available to non-parliamentary cabinet members over seven months in 2015, adding he intends to return the money in full.

Mardas served as alternate finance minister from January to August 2015, during Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ first cabinet, and alternate foreign minister from September 2015 to November 2016 in Tsipras’ second cabinet.

A law, passed by the government 2015, entitled non-parliamentary members of the government to receive a residence allowance if they did not have a privately owned residence in Athens, without taking into account their income.

In a written statement released by the former minister, Mardas said he received the subsidy from February to August 2015, adding that the law should have incorporated income or other wealth-related criteria.

His disclosure follows the resignation on Monday of Alternate Labour Minister Rania Antonopoulou over her use of the provision, which stirred controversy. Antonopoulou has said she will return the 23,000 euros she said she has received for an apartment she rented in central Athens. On Tuesday, Economy and Development Minister Dimitri Papadimitriou, Antonopoulou’s spouse, also resigned, citing reasons of “political sensitivity”.