George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, scrambled to shore up his crackdown on tax evaders by sacking his tourism minister on Tuesday after a newspaper revealed that her husband, a nightclub singer, owed 5.5m euros in unpaid income taxes.
Angela Gerekou, a former actress who posed topless for a Greek magazine in the 1990s, stood down to demonstrate “her sensitivity and concerns about harming the government”, a spokesman said.
She had been preparing to launch an international campaign under the slogan “You and Greece”, aimed at reviving the tourism sector after hotel bookings fell in response to global television coverage of anti-austerity riots in Athens.
Analysts said the episode would remain an embarrassment to a government that, unusually for Greece, has chosen to occupy the moral high ground on tackling corruption.
The conservative opposition party, New Democracy, was quick to accuse the Socialists of “being unable to guarantee transparency...even among their own cabinet ministers”.
“The question being posed by foreigners [in Brussels] is how sincere and determined the government is about combating tax evasion, regardless of its grandiose declarations,” said Eleftherotypia, the leftwing newspaper that revealed details of Tolis Voskopoulos’s tax returns.