PM’s office backs minister, digs at central banker


The prime minister's office on Tuesday responded to the alleged taping of central banker Yannis Stournaras by Alternate Minister Pavlos Polakis, saying it has always respected the independence of the Bank of Greece “even when its governor has expressed different views on crucial issues of economic policy.”

“But the same respect to independence and the principle of political neutrality must be exhibited in practice by all sides,” Alexis Tsipras's office said in a press release.

Earlier on Tuesday, a prosecutor in Athens opened an investigation into the recording of the private conversation to establish whether Polakis taped it without Stournaras's permission and leaked it to a pro-government newspaper. If evidence is found against him, the minister could face felony charges.

The conversation between the two men concerned a decision by Stournaras 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.

In the transcripts, 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."