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Games finances correct: Oly chief

Karolos Grohmann | September 24, 2004 12:07 IST

Athens Olympics organisers have vehemently denied any financial improprieties in the run-up to this year's Games as suggested in an audit report this week.

Athens Games chief Gianna Angelopoulos said on Thursday that the report for the year 2001 did not paint an accurate picture of the organisers' work ahead of August's Olympics.

Ever since the financial failure of the 1976 Montreal Games, almost all Olympics organisers have come under fire for their financial activities after staging the world's biggest sporting event.

Flanked by lawyers and her chief financial officer for the Games, Angelopoulos said every euro would be accounted for when the organisers close the books at the end of the year.

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"No one can doubt that all our actions were in accordance with the strict legal framework which, for the first time in the history of the Games, was based both on our national legislation and the EU's legal platform," Angelopoulos told reporters.

"We are proud of the work we did."

The audit report for the year 2001 claims the Games organising committee (ATHOC) did not follow proper hiring procedures in many cases, awarded tenders without signing contracts and had several thousand euros in unaccounted payments.

UNACCOUNTED EXPENSES

The reports for the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 are currently being prepared and will be ready in the coming months, officials said.

"We will leave no doubt hanging in the air over our actions' legality and transparency, full stop," Angelopoulos said.

Two of the three auditors who drafted the report testified to prosecutors on Wednesday regarding their accusations.

The charges include spending "large sums" for receptions and out-of-town expenses, hiring 39 of 41 directors and general directors by bending local labour laws and offering large salaries, and awarding considerable compensation for employees who resigned and were not eligible for payment.

The auditors also found payments of about 4,000 euros for flowers sent to ATHOC itself and several hospitals.

Angelopoulos said all unaccounted expenses would come out of the salaries of the employees who filed them while higher monthly wages had been necessary to attract people "to do a job in four years when you normally need seven."

Greece saw the cost for the Games spiral in recent years after wasting three years of preparations and rushing to complete dozens of projects only weeks before the start of the Olympics.

The total cost has shot up to more than 8.0 billion euros from an initial estimate of about 3.5 billion euros.


Athens 2004: The Complete Coverage

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