ATHENS – The Greek Parliament controlled by the ruling New Democracy approved setting up a special committee to investigate the role of a chief rival and minister under the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA for TV licenses.
It came after a contentious debate, okaying the proposal by 30 Conservative lawmakers wanting to know if there was any wrongdoing by Nikos Pappas when he was Digital Policy Minister in awarding private TV licenses.
The committee will investigate if any crimes were committed during the exercise of his ministerial duties, and specifically the charge of bribery and repeated breach of duty, said Kathimerini
A businessman who took part in the auction, Christos Kalogritsas, accused Pappas, who was responsible for overseeing the licensing process, of “rigging” the competition and then not accounting for money that was put up.
Pappas denied doing anything unlawful and claims against him contained in the case file forwarded to Parliament in February by the Justice Ministry, and warned New Democracy to “be careful how you talk about SYRIZA.”
He said that, “The time is coming when you will pay a heavy price for your slander,” without clarifying what he meant as he is close to former premier and now major opposition leader Alexis Tsipras.
Pappas was also a key advisor to Tsipras when SYRIZA tried to control who got license for private TV stations before a high administrative court decision barred it.
If lawmakers find that there are grounds for the accusations leveled against him to be investigated further, they can vote to lift Pappas’ immunity from prosecution and he could face charges.
The case file sent to a Supreme Court prosecutor has reportedly turned up evidence indicating there should be a probe into the role of Kalogritsas in a 2016 license auction, said Kathimerini.
Kalogritsas has accused Pappas, who was responsible for overseeing the licensing process, of “setting up” the competition by arranging that Kalogritsas had the 3 million euro ($3.64 million) guarantee needed to enter the bidding process on the condition that the businessman would act as a front for a pro-government TV station.
Kalogritsas also alleged that once the bid failed the government diverted the money to its own uses, not the license.