ATHENS – A Greek parliamentary committee investigating whether former alternate justice minister Dimitris Papangelopoulos meddled in an alleged bribery scandal around the Swiss drug company Novartis heard claims accusing him and two journalists of blackmail.
The accusations against Papangelopoulos, from the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA were made by Greek-Israeli businessman Sabby Mionis, who also pointed the finger at the publisher of the Dimokratia newspaper, Ioannis Filippakis, and two journalists.
Mionis said it happened in 2016, reported Kathimerini, the incident supposedly happening after Filippakis’ Dimokratia newspaper had implicated Mionis in the so-called Lagarde List of wealthy Greeks hiding money in a Swiss branch of HSBC to evade taxes.
According to reports, Mionis said that Papangelopoulos had asked for a bribe of 350,000 euros ($382,790) to close the case. Mionis said he would sue Papangelopoulos, Filippakis and the two journalists,and also said that there had also been an attempt at a compromise between himself and Filippakis in 2013, when Antonis Samaras was Prime Minister.
He didn’t explain why he waited four years to make the accusations, after former premier and now major opposition leader Alexis Tsipras had accused Samaras and nine other political rivals of taking bribes from Novartis.
There was no report on whether Papangelopoulos responded to the accusations.
That was based on claims by three secret whistleblowers, one of who has been identified after trying to leave for Spain, and with the other two telling the committee they have no evidence or proof and that their claims were speculation based on rumors and hearsay.
Sources from SYRIZA not named said the attempt for a settlement was made after “a request by the Israeli government,” the paper reported elaborating, with Papangelopoulos under growing fire for his handling of the Novartis case.
In a statement, Filippakis said that Mionis “gave unreliable testimony, as he has done for seven years,” because Dimokratia had implicated the businessman in the Lagarde List. Filippakis said the list showed that “Mionis controlled or managed, directly or indirectly, 55 percent of deposits amounting to more that 1 billion US dollars.”
Filippakis, denying the claims of blackmail also warned that he will take legal action against Mionis, a common tactic in Greece between high-profile figures who battle verbally and in court.
Filppakis said Mionisi “has tried to present the effort (among many) for an out-of-court settlement between private individuals as a supposed bribery and blackmail attempt,” adding that the governments of New Democracy and SYRIZA agreed for settlements.
The publisher also said that until the national elections in July 2019 won by New Democracy that, Mionis had said nothing about Papangelopoulos and had filed filed a lawsuit in Israel against the Conservatives Makis Voridis, now Minister of Agricultural Development, with similar charges of blackmail. Israeli authorities dismissed his claims.