Incomplete Vatopedi probe nears conclusion

The parliamentary committee probing the Vatopedi real estate swap is due to conclude its work on Monday even though it has not yet been given an evaluator’s report, nor gained information about the plethora of offshore companies involved in the deal. The head of the panel, PASOK MP Dimitris Tsironis, said that the committee did not have to wait for the results of a third evaluation report on the property exchange, as it was clear to all the deputies on the panel that the state had lost out in the swap. Two previous reports, carried out by the state evaluation service but also checked by independent evaluators, were not able to confirm that the public coffers had incurred damages when the Vatopedi Monastery swapped the land it owed around Lake Vistonida in northern Greece for dozens of state properties of an allegedly higher value. Tsironis told journalists that it was clear that the Lake Vistonida land had come into the monastery’s hands illegally, therefore any swap of the property with public real estate would have been detrimental to the state. The properties the Church received have been valued at 110 million euros. PASOK MPs stressed that the monastery also applied for the right to build on some of the land that it received in the swap deal, giving it a much higher value. New Democracy deputies underlined the fact that Vatopedi obtained the Lake Vistonida property when the Socialists were in power. Meanwhile, former government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos sent the committee a written statement yesterday in which he claims that the panel has not obtained any evidence that he was involved in any wrongdoing. Roussopoulos has been accused of being the deal’s moral instigator, a charge he denies.

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