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2nd Greek minister steps down over rent allowance payments

February 27, 2018

FILE-In this Saturday, Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, then newly appointed Development Minister Dimitri Papadimitriou takes an oath during a swearing in ceremony at the Presidential palace in Athens. Papadimitriou has resigned Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, shortly after his wife, a junior cabinet minister, also stepped down over a rent allowance scandal. On Monday, Papadimitriou's wife, deputy labor minister Rania Antonopoulou, quit after she applied for and received rent allowance for her Athens home, despite declaring an annual household income of more than half a million dollars. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s economy and development minister resigned Tuesday, shortly after his wife, a junior cabinet minister, also stepped down over a rent allowance scandal.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accepted the resignation of Dimitri Papadimitriou, the prime minister’s office said.

No replacement was announced for the 71-year-old U.S.-educated economics professor, who made no public statements.

The resignations dealt a considerable blow to Tsipras’ left-led government, which has invested much political capital in accusing conservative and socialist opposition parties of graft, cavalier treatment of the crisis-mired country’s public finances and nepotism.

While the couple — among the wealthiest cabinet members — were legally entitled to the allowance, their application for it is seen as morally questionable in a bailout-dependent country with 21 percent unemployment.

On Monday, Papadimitriou’s wife, deputy labor minister Rania Antonopoulou, quit over the 1,000-euro ($1,200) monthly allowance for her Athens home. She declared an annual household income of more than half a million dollars.

This followed weekend reports revealing that that she received aid worth a total 23,000 euros ($28,300) over two years, even though she had an extensive property portfolio.

The government says it plans to abolish the housing subsidy for Cabinet members who are not members of parliament.

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