ATHENS – A bank under scrutiny for handing out bad loans while its deposits were shrinking approved 128 million euros ($142.76 million) last year to a construction company owner whose son won a private TV license from the government.
Attica Bank, in violation of Bank of Greece orders, approved the loan to for Christos Kalogritsas, said to have ties with the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA party of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras who cut the number of private TV stations from seven to four, the business newspaper Naftemporiki said.
Tsipras said he did it stop corruption in the industry and for transparency in the TV licensing although another winner, shipping magnate and Olympiacos soccer team owner Evangelos Marinakis, out on bail on felony charges of fixing matches and other wrongdoing.
Kalogritsas, whose son Ioannis won the TV license by reportedly putting up worthless grazing land as collateral for a bank loan, got 50 million euros ($55.77 million) in loans in 2015 alone, at a time when Attica Bank was bleeding money and most banks had stopped lending.
A probe by the Bank of Greece and an arm of the European Central Bank, one of the country’s international creditors, found 60 percent of the bank’s whole portfolio were loans gone bad.
It wasn’t reported whether Kalogritsas is paying as the report showed the bank was used almost like a private slush fund to hand out money to the privileged and connected with no report that loans – said to average 10-40 million euros ($11.15-$44.61 million) a pop – were trying to be collected.
Kalogritsas’ holding company came away with a TV license with a bid of the second license, at a cost of 52.6 million euros ($58.76 million) after getting the bank loans, including 15 million ($16.73 million) just before the bidding began.