ATHENS, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- The head of Greece's privatization fund Stelios Stavridis has been dismissed over an alleged violation of ethics rules, becoming the second to fall in six months, local media reported Sunday.
Stavridis submitted his resignation on Sunday evening upon call of Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras over a trip to a Greek island last week using the private airplane of a businessman who had just took control of the state gambling company OPAP.
Stavridis is the second president of Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) who is forced to quit this year amidst a scandal, refueling criticism over the fund's function.
"I warmly thank HRADF's great team for the excellent and constructive cooperation we had. I wish the government with which I had wonderful collaboration to proceed successfully to the difficult and needed work of privatizations," Stavridis noted in a statement.
Shortly earlier in a similar brief statement released to the press Stournaras had requested his resignation.
The dismissal came after a report in local newspaper "Proto Thema" (Top Story) that on August 12 Stavridis used the private plane of Greek businessman Dimitris Melissanidis after they had both signed the final deal on the sale of a 33 percent stake of OPAP to a Greek-Czech fund for 652 million euros (866 million U.S. dollars).
Stavridis said that he accepted Melissanidis' "kind offer" to travel with him from Athens to Cephalonia, where the latter has a holiday home, as the businessman was on his way to France. He added that during the flight they discussed the sale.
The story caused an uproar over ethics in conducting negotiations with suitors of state assets. The main opposition Radical Left SYRIZA party called on Sunday for the freeze of the agreement and "the dismissal of those who appointed him."
Stavridis was appointed at HRADF's helm in March this year after the dismissal of his predecessor Takis Athanassopoulos, when he was charged for breaching of duty during his previous role as chief of a state utility.
The new blow came as Greece's privatization program, which is a key part of efforts to address the Greek debt crisis, has suffered significant delays.
Revenue targets have been revised downwards several times since the launch of the wider austerity and reform plan in 2010 under bailout agreements with international lenders who keep Greece afloat until its return to growth in 2014 according to the latest official estimates.
The deal on OPAP was the first major asset sale this year. Following a string of snags, revenue targets for 2013 were lowered from the initial 2.6 billion euros to 1.6 billion euros. (1 euro=1.33 U.S. dollars)