NEWS

Prosecutor to probe alleged phone recording by minister

IOANNA MANDROU

TAGS: Justice, Politics

The head of the Athens prosecutor's office, Evangelos Ioannidis, on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the alleged taping by Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis of a private phone conversation with Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras.

The conversation between the two men concerned a decision by Stournaras earlier in the day to question the management of Attica Bank over a decision to grant Polakis 100,000 euros' worth of personal loans secured against a property with a 300,000-euro mortgage.

Attica Bank is under the purview of the Greek central bank and not the European Central Bank.

In the transcripts, leaked to a pro-government newspaper, Polakis is demanding that Stournaras opens a probe into loans granted to certain political parties, officials and media, otherwise he "will come down there and will not leave."

The central banker said earlier the recording was unauthorized, accused the minister of trying to tell him how to do his job and called for a judicial investigation.

“Yesterday's action by a representative of the executive branch to attempt in an unheard-of manner to influence the way in which I carry out my duties compels me to provide clear explanations and take action,” Stournaras said.

The prosecution will investigate whether the recording happened without Stournaras's consent and who leaked it to the paper.

If there is evidence that Polakis is behind it, the prosecutor will then ask Parliament to lift his immunity so that he can face felony charges.

Asked on the issue on Tuesday, European Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas reiterated the obligation of politicians to respect the independence of central banks and central bankers.

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