Gov’t facing upheaval over TV license auction, Attica Bank

TAGS: Politics, Economy, Finance, Media

The government faced a deepening political crisis on Tuesday as Parliament’s ethics committee was expected to summon State Minister Nikos Pappas and the four winners of a recent auction of television licenses and a senior cabinet member expressed serious concerns about one of the victors, the son of a construction magnate with leftist links who is under investigation for tax evasion.

Using a special provision in the House regulations, conservative New Democracy and the center-left Democratic Alignment convinced Parliament’s transparency and ethics committee to call Pappas and the license winners to answer questions relating to the procedure of the competition, which fueled controversy.

Speaking earlier, ND deputy Makis Voridis accused the government of trying to cover up “leftist corruption.” “There is a major issue of transparency,” he said. Other opposition MPs maintained that the auction violated Greek and European laws.

The government also faced heavy criticism from within its own ranks, with Interior Minister Panayiotis Kouroublis indicating that Yiannis Kalogritsas, the son of construction magnate Christos Kalogritsas, should have his license revoked if claims that the family borrowed millions from state-backed Attica Bank and evaded millions of euros in taxes are substantiated.

Kouroublis called on Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras to provide the government with all the details about Attica Bank. “Of course, if there is evidence, then he and those who gave him the license have responsibilities, criminal and political,” Kouroublis told Vima FM.

Later in the day, clearly under pressure from others in the government, Kouroublis issued a much milder statement, saying that all license winners should “fulfill all the legal preconditions.”

Earlier on Tuesday, it emerged that Greek authorities have been investigating businessman Christos Kalogritsas for alleged tax evasion since last year.

Kalogritsas is the subject of an inquiry over an alleged 20-million-euro discrepancy between his deposits and tax declarations, sources told Kathimerini.

His details are being probed as part of a wider investigation. He faces charges of tax evasion and money laundering unless he can explain the provenance of these deposits.

Meanwhile, his son, Yiannis Kalogritsas, one of the winners in the recent auction for broadcasting licenses, was also investigated over deposits worth 4 million euros which were not accounted for in a declaration detailing the source of his wealth.

The younger businessman was able to settle his debts to the state before the TV license auction, closing the investigation against him.