ATHENS, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Greek Parliament Speaker Vangelis Meimarakis stepped down temporarily on Tuesday due to alleged corruption scandals implicating a total of 32 politicians.
"I am present and will do whatever necessary so that truth will shine," Meimarakis stressed in a press release, strongly denying his involvement in money laundering, corruption and tax evasion cases amounting to 10.2 billion euros (13.2 billion U.S. dollars) over the past decade, as a Greek daily wrote this week citing judicial sources.
Meimarakis underlined that he did not resign, but suspended his duties and had asked deputy speakers of parliament to replace him until the Financial Crime Authority and Supreme Court prosecutor finish the probe.
Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has confirmed that an investigation into the financial transactions of 32 current and former members of parliament is being conducted by authorities.
Their names have not been made public officially, but local media have printed reports which implicate Meimarakis and former ministers.
In a statement released from his office, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras asked judicial authorities to speed up the probe.
Local political analysts commented that the case cast a shadow on the entire political system in particular ahead of a crucial parliamentary vote on a new harsh package of austerity measures of 11.5 billion euros.
Meimarakis and several figures allegedly probed are key members of Samaras' conservative New Democracy party.
Leaks in media also mentioned former ministers from the socialist PASOK party which participates in the three-party coalition government formed this summer to continue with the austerity drive in order to secure further international funding to keep debt-crippled Greece afloat.
Since 2010, under bailout agreements with EU and International Monetary Fund, Greece has received multi-billion-euro loans in exchange of a tough austerity and reform program to exit the crisis and avoid a default and possible exit from the eurozone.
The rounds of cuts on salaries, pensions and tax hikes have fuelled recession and added enormous pressure on the poorest Greeks, who complain that key factors of the crisis, such as corruption, have still not been addressed properly.
By the end of this week, Samaras and his two coalition partners are due to finalize the new package of austerity measures which will be tabled in parliament for approval to unlock more international aid this autumn. (1 euro = 1.29 U.S. dollars)