ATHENS – Greek prosecutors have recommended charges be brought against the former treasurers of the major opposition New Democracy and now-defunct PASOK Socialist, as well as scores of current and retired bank executives over bad loans given the parties.
The two were in a coalition led by the Conservatives and received some 250 million euros ($280.79 million) in loans they haven’t been fully repaying and with the bank officers who approved them without sufficient collateral given immunity from prosecution.
The charges come in an election year after a minister for the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA said the party’s hopes of returning to power after plummeting in popularity because of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ relentless reneging on anti-austerity vows depends on “putting some people in jail.”
Tsipras also said 10 rival politicians were guilty of taking bribes from the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis without a shred of evidence being produced and with the company saying its investigation found it hadn’t happened.
It’s based on the testimony of three whistleblowers whose identities were being kept secret under law but with one being unmasked after being stopped at the international airport on his way to Spain and the stories of the two others said to keep changing.
A financial crimes prosecutor said felony and misdemeanor charges should be brought in the bad loans given the two parties at the same time many Greeks are being hounded by banks to repay mortgages, loans and credit cards even if they can’t because they’ve been hit with big pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and worker firings.
The loans were given based on the parties using still-unreceived state subsidies given political groups as guarantees. There was no report on how much, if any of the loans were repaid or are still being paid or have been written off.
The prosecutors said that loans given SYRIZA as well as the KKE Communists were being paid, potentially giving the Leftists a boost in trying to chip away at New Democracy’s lead that has been as high as 14 percent with elections required by October.
Recommended charges range from felony breach of faith to moral complicity by past party treasures, nine in total, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki. An earlier investigation was stopped by a Supreme Court prosecutor but has now been reopened by high court prosecutor Xeni Demetriou who had been criticized in 2013 under a New Democracy-led regime for warning against liability exemptions and lenient borrowing terms given political parties and charities.
New Democracy and the Movement for Change (KINAL), which is led by stalwarts of the former PASOK, pointed the finger at Tsipras for pushing corruption charges against their former officials with pre-campaign electioneering heating up.