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Politics

Greek Prosecutor Probes Ex-High Court Chief Alleged Blackmail Tape

ATHENS – The Athens Appellate Prosecutor’s office will examine an audio file to determine if it showed that former high court chief Vassili Thanou – through an intermediary – was blackmailing a prominent banker, the late Andreas Vgenopoulos.

That will determine whether she should be prosecuted although the case had been looked into at the time and set aside, but could be reopened over the audio tape, said Kathimerini.

Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Giorgos Skiadaresis, who looked into the issue after the file was revealed in the media, said he wants a decisoin on whether there’s enough apparent evidence to reopen an investigation.

The file includes a recorded conversation between Vgenopoulos, who died in November 2016, and a businesswoman who mediated on behalf of Thanou, conveying requests for money.

Thanou –  who went on to serve the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA –  denounced it, but the report on the site iefimerida.gr led the high court prosecutor to look again at the case.

She said earlier that she may sue the site for slander as the incident set off a firestorm in political circles because it involves so many prominent names, including Vgenopoulos, who headed the former Marfin Bank.

The audio file is a recorded conversation between Vgenopoulos and businesswoman Dimitra Maratou, who said she was acting on behalf of Thanou and seems to be asking for money, using the terms “books” and “libraries” instead.

That came when Vgenopoulos, who was criticized for his bank requiring employees to show up on the day of 2010 massive anti-austerity protests that saw one of the branches in Athens firebombed and three workers killed, was also caught up in court cases.

The allegations arose more than six years after Vgenopoulos had publicly claimed in 2016 during a press conference that he was being blackmailed by agents of the SYRIZA government he didn’t name.

The file also suggests that Thanou was blackmailing him even before she became the high court leader, demanding money in return for stopping the extradition to Cyprus of two of his associates.

Maratou is heard telling Vgenopoulos he should send a book to Thanou as a gift, stuffed with money and when he asks how much can fit she says up to 50,000 euros ($56,016) would do.

She said that it would be Thanou’s son, a lawyer, who would get the book, or books – at one point it is suggested that a “library” be sent to Thanou – and that Thanou would receive all of the money, implying that the businesswoman would receive no cut for her effort.

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