Another monastery now under scrutiny

Two of the monks at the center of the Vatopedi scandal were yesterday given an extra week to explain why they would not accept questions from MPs investigating the affair, as the financial crimes squad launched a probe into claims that another monastery was involved in suspicious real estate deals. The inspectors visited the Emmaous Monastery in the Aghios Vassilios area of Thessaloniki after a prosecutor decided to chase up claims about its involvement in the purchase and sale of properties. The financial crimes squad officers seized paperwork and bank account details during their search. Another prosecutor has also asked that a nun from Emmaous stand trial for fraud as part of a share scam. The 43-year-old nun was a board member on one of two stockbrokerages that is alleged to have defrauded its customers. Meanwhile, Ephraim, the former head monk at the Vatopedi Monastery, and his assistant have been given until Friday to prepare their testimony for the investigation into their refusal to appear before a parliamentary committee last month and answer questions about their involvement in a land swap with the state. The Bank of Greece issued a report about Vatopedi’s finances for deputies late on Thursday in which it is suggested that withdrawals totaling some 6 million euros from the monastery’s accounts remain unaccounted for. The report also indicates that Dimitris Pelekis, the father-in-law of former Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis, was paid 1 million euros for providing the monastery with legal representation in its property deals.

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