Vatopedi deals unravel

A Cypriot investor who managed a considerable amount of the Vatopedi Monastery’s fortune indicated to MPs yesterday that the Mount Athos monks had even wider business dealings than previously thought. The parliamentary inquiry into the allegedly corrupt property swap between the state and the monastery has over the last few days heard about the increasingly complex and lucrative investments in which Vatopedi was involved. It was suggested last week, for instance, that its monks had invested some 90 million euros in the stock market. There was a new revelation yesterday when Athos Koiranidis, the man who manages this portfolio and who helped set up the Cyprus-based Rassadel, through which the monastery is involved in yet more business deals, appeared before the investigative committee. Koiranidis informed the MPs that through Rassadel, the monastery owned 30 percent of a property management company, Anthemias, which is run by businessman Thanassis Papistas. The Cypriot also revealed that Vatopedi also owns 30 percent of a second company on Cyprus, Mateus, which also holds 30 percent of Papistas’s holding company. This means that the monastery owns a 51 percent majority stake in Papistas’s property company, which bought many of the properties around Thessaloniki that Vatopedi was given as part of the land exchange with the state. A further twist was added to this revelation when ministers were informed that the Economy and Finance Ministry has leased three properties from Papistas’s companies for some of its departments in northern Greece. The PASOK MPs on the committee said this was evidence that there was a clear relationship between the monastery, Papistas and the government. Late last night, the Papistas group of companies issued a statement saying that Koiranidis had not presented the facts correctly. The Cypriot also told MPs that he had invested 109 million euros on behalf of the monastery over the last two years. He added that all this money had been obtained from loans, even though Vatopedi had the capital necessary for the investments.

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