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Damning testimony, taped conversations put spotlight on SYRIZA

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The written testimony of a prominent Greek-Israeli businessman to a parliamentary committee investigating a minister of the former SYRIZA government, sparked a political storm on Monday with acrimonious exchanges between deputies of ruling New Democracy and the main opposition leftist party. 

In his letter submitted to the committee probing the handling of the Novartis case by the former SYRIZA administration, Sabby Mionis claimed that he had been harassed by judicial officials for failing to pay a bribe to alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos in 2016.

Mionis also attached an audio recording of a telephone conversation with the minister of state of the SYRIZA government, Nikos Pappas, who stated that Papangelopoulos was known for having his “own agenda” and “making a lot of money” from backroom deals, or “outsourcing.”

He also appears to be goading Mionis to encourage an ex-aide to former premier Antonis Samaras to denigrate the profile of Mareva Grabowski, wife of the then leader of the official opposition and current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

New Democracy said the testimony revealed a “ruthless parastate” while deputy Athanasios Plevris noted that the recording of Pappas clashed with his earlier testimony to the committee. “We must send to the competent prosecutor the minutes from the testimony of Nikos Pappas to the committee and the dialogues from the audio as they are completely different,” he said, adding that “what we have heard is extremely shocking.”

Movement for Change (KINAL) MP Dimitris Biangis echoed similar sentiments and backed the move for the prosecutor to look into the contradictions between Pappas’ testimony and the dialogue heard in the recording.

For his part, Pappas dismissed what he called a “ridiculous distraction” invented by New Democracy after “shocking revelations” were made earlier in the probe about Greece’s former top corruption prosecutor Eleni Raikou, and Samaras.

​​​​​​In a televised statement, Pappas said that the illegal recording of a private conversation had been heavily edited, aimed at falsifying the meaning of the dialogue. He also denounced the “mafia methods” on the part of ND.

He said references in the recordings about “an agenda” and “doing jobs” have nothing to do with Papangelopoulos.

Meanwhile, reports said that when asked during a private conversation to comment about the content of the Pappas-Mionis dialogue, Papangelopoulos said, “Ask Mr Pappas.”If anything happens to me, know that I don't have suicidal tendencies. I am a victim of a global criminal organization," he reportedly said.

Here is a translated transcript of the audio recordings:

MIONIS: But what will I do? What will I do then?
PAPPAS: It will not get to that, stop.
MIONIS: It will not get to that, but…we never get to that and…one of them raids my home…That’s all my life is about anymore. I only deal with that! It's crazy, Nikos! And, this is also what Giorgos says, there’s not a single piece of evidence! Giorgos tells me “I’ve been asking him for 8 months, since I met you, for one piece of evidence, one,” Giorgos tells me. “He tells me he considers me a friend now, but if I find any evidence and I see that you’re leading me along, I’ll f… you.” I said, “legit.”
PAPPAS: Straight talk.

MIONIS: There’s more. After the meeting you had in his office, which everyone attended, Yiannis told him never to talk to me on the phone again because he’s afraid that Papangelopoulos is tapping the phone.
PAPPAS: Who?
MIONIS: He’s afraid that Papangelopoulos is tapping Giorgos.
PAPPAS: Papangelopoulos doesn’t care about that.
MIONIS: Yes, but Kammenos does.
PAPPAS: Hmmm…
MIONIS: Those two are together. Now that Israel’s defense minister has changed, you’ll see what happens…

MIONIS: I know, I can see it. Also, this is a hodge-podge of a party. The center is all but lost…what if you call Touloupaki? What? What does he say?
PAPPAS: [Apparently reading a message on his cell phone]: “She’s crazy,” he says, “she’s decided to pay to close the issue by tax. I don’t know what the prosecutors want to do, I don’t think they are backing down.” I ask him, “What do you mean you don’t know what the prosecutors want to do?” “Mimis should take over, but I don’t think he’s particularly interested. Maybe he wants us to continue pushing this.”
MIONIS: He is with them, he is…he is…he’s not on your side, he’s on theirs.
PAPPAS: [Apparently reading a message on his cell phone]: “The talk of a criminal organization charge is a joke, legally, and it’s the last resort for him if he doesn’t give any information about the other guy.”
MIONIS: I know all this, I haven’t lied. I’ve been telling you since the very start! I’ve told you everything. If it got to the point where Alexis talked to him in front of everyone and he continues not to give a f…, it is a problem. I mean…look, now I’m paying…I went to the lawyer again today to pay for the other thing, the remaining amount for Papastavrou, right? Okay, after that, I would have paid…
PAPPAS: What have you paid so far?
MIONIS: 2,700,000 million [euros]! And now I received another one for 1,700,000, of which 1,400,000 is mine, but we’ll pay half, because it is his father’s who has died and there’s no criminal proceedings. So, it’s another 700,000. I’ve already given him 3,400,000, right? We should not make a noise about that, I’ll go to court and reclaim it, whenever I get it back, right? Angelos can also give…
PAPPAS: [Apparently reading a message on his cell phone]: “To have a better picture we will have to get the case file. They should give the file to me and Michalis and explain it to us. From what I’ve seen so far, press reports on what Sabby has given me, the criminal organization charge cannot in any way stick. Capitalism is not a criminal offence.” [laughter]

MIONIS: And others tell you – this is the position of others, right? – “Relations are excellent, this story with Mionis isn’t a problem.”
PAPPAS: It doesn’t work that way.
MIONIS: No, no, that’s what others say.
PAPPAS: I don’t care. I have to tell you something, because Bibi asked him for three things and Tsipras did them for him, Tsipras asked him for four, five, Bibi did it for him immediately… No work done…That is, this (red line) that he picks up one phone and tells him “what’s up? How are you?” That must be maintained. This is how it works. It is not…
MIONIS: So they think there’s a story we’ve created.
PAPPAS: No, no, no… They don’t believe it anymore. I told Filippakis “okay,” he told me “I don’t think Mionis has connections,” I told him “my boy,” I told him “look me in the eyes, I wouldn’t be here talking to you about the case if he didn’t.’ “Think,” I told him, “please.”
MIONIS: Okay, but they want to think what they want to think, do you understand? Do you see what he’s telling you… After all that, Giorgos tells you, after all that has happened, with my parents? It was not possible. Nuts! But it’s them and you will see that they will turn against…
PAPPAS: Against us?
MIONIS: Against you!
PAPPAS: Just don’t open up now….Papangelopoulos, okay…
MIONIS: What? How do you read him?
PAPPAS: He has his own agenda, and this point of yours…I found out about who it is, but your point is where the conflict takes place…That with his own agenda he is trumping the ‘shop’s’ agenda. I am not naive. I know and understand that at this level of politics (incomprehensible) No objection! I know, I understand, I smell, I learn, that some people are making money. Money!
MIONIS: How are they making money?
PAPPAS: Lots of money? We’re not talking about money now!
MIONIS: Yes, yes. I’ve heard that too.
PAPPAS: Bravo. And we can say that we did not see that. It is a no-go when their agenda trumps the shop’s agenda. It’s not there…In other words, there is no other one…Big guy, if you help the shop, you can, let’s say, be here and do your own outsourcing. Understand?
MIONIS: Yes, yes, I understand… it is called realpolitik
PAPPAS: Yes, but to come and place an agenda on our shop that we have not chosen, which also creates difficulties for us… No way! Sit down!

MIONIS: I have old parents, I have a brother who can’t come to Greece with his family right now because he's scared, so I can’t help but be upset. I have a close friend, a former partner and so on, who tells me “I don’t know how long I will last” and I see him in a crazy state, with two psychiatrists and drugs. And Stavros, the same, with psychotropic drugs.
MIONIS: No matter how much you hate him and so on, he is a human being also.
PAPPAS: We don’t hate anyone, we don’t hate anyone. He must come out and talk.
MIONIS: Come out and talk to say what?
PAPPAS: Come on a..hole. To come out…
MIONIS: What to say? Seriously, does Stavros know things I don’t know? So, just wait a minute. But, let me tell you, would you ever go out and talk about Alexis?
PAPPAS: (probably whispering denial)
MIONIS: Then how do you expect him to come out then? Let’s be reasonable. So, you want them to do the same thing to you? Well, that’s not on, it’s not on
PAPPAS: And Mareva. And Mareva.
MIONIS: What?
PAPPAS: And Mareva.
MIONIS: So, what do you want? Mareva is his close friend.