A political firestorm erupted on Thursday after shipping magnate Evangelos Marinakis claimed in an interview that Premier Alexis Tsipras and Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas asked him to finance businessman Yiannis Kalogritsas during the auctions for TV broadcasting licenses in 2016, as a favor.
“Mr Pappas had asked me to meet Mr Kalogritsas, as a favor, which the prime minster also wanted, during the time of the TV licenses auction,” Marinakis told Real FM radio. He added that he indeed met with Kalogritsas and was asked to provide him with a 26.3-million-euro loan so that he could pay the first installment for a TV broadcasting license.
Marinakis, who owns Nottingham Forest FC and Greek club Olympiakos, said he refused the request. “I dare Mr Pappas to come out and deny it,” Marinakis said.
Kalogritsas eventually withdrew from the tender as he was unable to pay the first tranche.
Marinakis also went on to say that during the time he was engaged in negotiations to buy the Lambrakis Media Group (DOL), the government had asked him to appoint senior executives in the group that were to their liking.
New Democracy said that, with his statements, Marinakis “again confirmed his close ties with SYRIZA and Mr Tsipras in the first years of his government.”
“We are asking Mr Tsipras and Pappas directly. Is what Marinakis said valid or not?”
For its part, the government denounced Marinakis as the “true leader” of ND, who “decided to make a public appearance having realized the inadequacies” of ND leader Kyriakos Mitstotakis.
“The well-known industrialist, publisher and defendant has appeared one day after his indictment for match fixing,” Maximos Mansion said in a statement.
Tsipras himself called Marinakis a “close family friend and financer of Mr Mitsotakis.”