NEWS

PM to take legal action over allegations of bribery in presidential vote

The prime minister’s office let it be known on Friday night that Antonis Samaras would be taking legal action against the Independent Greeks party after its leader, Panos Kammenos, and MP Pavlos Haikalis alleged that there was an attempt to bribe the latter so he would vote for the government’s presidential candidate.

The anti-austerity nationalist party held a news conference on Friday to reveal that it had secretly recorded conversations with an alleged middleman who offered Haikalis, an actor, 700,000 euros in cash, more favourable terms for his bank loan and up to 3 million euros in advertising work if he backed the presidential nominee, Stavros Dimas.

Haikalis first informed prosecutors about this on December 6 but the allegations were only made public on Friday after comedian Lakis Lazopoulos revealed in a TV interview that he had seen the footage recorded secretly by Haikalis.

Kammenos said that the man who allegedly attempted to bribe the MP had been introduced to him several years ago when the party leader was still at New Democracy. The Independent Greeks chief also said that the suspect had served as an economic adviser to the party, formed in early 2012, until June 2013.

Government sources said they regard the allegations as a fabrication aimed at deterring MPs from helping the government to elect a president and avoid snap elections.

“This toying with institutions and the country has to stop right now,” said New Democracy secretary Andreas Papamimikos, who accused Independent Greeks and SYRIZA of trying to “blackmail” undecided MPs not to vote for Dimas.

On hearing the allegations made by Haikalis, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipreas called for the claims to be investigated. “It sounds like a serious accusation,” he said. “I would prefer not to comment further, though, if I do not see the facts and judge, based on those facts, how serious it is and how it could affect developments.”

Government spokeswoman Sofia Voultepsi accused Tsipras of “rushing to adopt” the allegations made by Independent Greeks. She also pointed out that the alleged middleman had accompanied Kammenos when he met with Tsipras in 2013.