Monastery accounts raise more questions

Details of the Vatopedi Monastery’s 31 bank accounts suggest that it was involved in the companies that bought some of the property it was given as part of the land exchange deal with the state, which is currently being investigated by a parliamentary committee. The Mount Athos monastery’s banking transactions are currently being studied by MPs as part of the probe and, according to leaks over the weekend, they indicate that 64 properties in and around Thessaloniki and a building in the Olympic Village in Athens were sold to companies in which Vatopedi was a shareholder. The latter property was sold for 41 million euros, plus a 9-million-euro «endowment.» A Cypriot company, Rassadel, which acted as an intermediary in the deal, also had shares in the company that bought the Thessaloniki properties. Deputies are examining the link between the monastery and Rassadel amid claims of illegal transfers of money. The firm that bought the Thessaloniki properties was co-owned by Thanassis Papistas, the businessman who last week presented a DVD to the parliamentary committee, which he claimed showed he was being blackmailed by the partner of a lawyer who had previously given evidence that was potentially damaging to the government. The growing complexities of the case and the continuous revelations that implicate the monastery have become a cause for concern for the head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos. «This issue has really hurt us and we are all anxious to see how it turns out,» he said in an interview with Sunday’s Eleftherotypia. But he added that critics who are calling for a separation of the Church and State are reacting too quickly.