Vatopedi loss yet to be confirmed

Following a request by the government, the judiciary has launched an investigation into the conduct of former Supreme Court prosecutor Giorgos Sanidas during his probe into the Vatopedi real estate exchange, although sources told Kathimerini that it has yet to be established that taxpayers lost out in the deal that saw public land end up in the hands of the Mount Athos Monastery. Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis instructed the Supreme Court to investigate whether Sanidas was guilty of any wrongdoing in the way that he handled the original probe into claims that the state had transferred prime real estate to the Vatopedi Monastery in return for land of a much lower value. It was confirmed yesterday that the task of investigating Sanidas has been assigned to Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Roussos Papadakis. In April last year, then outgoing Supreme Court prosecutor Sanidas prevented the Vatopedi case file from being resubmitted to Parliament for the House to decide whether any politicians should be investigated, insisting that no new evidence had been uncovered. However, Kathimerini understands that the entire Vatopedi affair may be based on a misconception. The initial probe into the real estate deal was launched after it was suspected that the property the New Democracy government signed over to the monastery a few years ago was worth at least 100 million euros more than the land it received in return. Some estimates have indicated an even larger discrepancy. The state’s official evaluators have delivered two reports on the property swap and neither was able to establish that the deal had left taxpayers worse off. The evaluations were both scrutinized by independent property evaluators, who found that the state officials had got their sums right. The parliamentary committee investigating the swap has now ordered a third evaluation.

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