The European Commission directly intervened in the work of the Greek Justice and demanded that EU technocrats working at the Greek Privatization Fund enjoy “immunity.” The EC intervenes two days after corruption prosecutors in Athens raised charges against 3 Greeks and 3 EU-nationals of the HRADF for selling public assets thus causing losses of several millions of euro to the state.
On Friday, EC spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters in Brussels that EU experts working in Greece under the Greek program, should enjoy some kind of ‘guarantee’.
“For us, satisfactory operating margins should be guaranteed for all European experts assisting Greece to improve its economy and find its way back to growth,” Schinas said. At the same time, he stressed that “there is full respect to judicial procedures” currently under way against 6 members of the old Privatization Fund.but the invervention was clear.
Schinas did not elaborate on the Eurogroup request referring to immunity for EU technocrats who will work for the new Greek Privatization Fund.
The EC intervention came right after the corruption prosecutors raised charges against 6 members of the TAIPED for the sale of 28 public assets. Three of those members are Greeks, the other three from Italy, Spain and Slovakia appointed by the Eurogroup. The six have been investigated for the period 2013-2014 and have been called to testify before corruption investigator Costas Sargiotis.
The six are suspected of “the crime of infidelity” and the “non beneficial use” of 28 state properties.
According to AthensNewsAgency, an EU official had explained earlier that Brussels was concerned that if the immunity-issue was not settled, no member of the European institutions would not want to be assigned to Greece and thus jeopardizing the success of the new Privatization Fund.
Therefore, the Eurogroup has requested the Greek Government to make the necessary changes in legislation, so corresponding charges will not be repeated in the future, the official added.
The six & the TAIPED: Sale of state assets & Lease back
The charges against the six members of TAIPED relate to the sale and leaseback of 28 state properties via the HRADF.
According to prosecutor, the Greek state suffered losses totaling €575,856,504.
The case refers to two auctions won by two private companies. The auctions was worth a total of €2611,310,000. The contracts were signed in May 2014 and the Greek state had to lease the properties back for twenty years in order to cover housing needs for public services. The leasing price for the Greek state was €25,589,800 for the first year alone. The Greek state had to pay lease also properties that remained empty or half-empty, with the loss being €6,661,678.
Characteristic examples are the Keranis building and the building of the Health Ministry.
Prosecutors also point out that in some cases, the “fair value of property” was devalued, thus reducing the amount of money received by the state and that “the value of land was not considered as well as other factors of the real estate market. (via euro2day.gr, huffingtonpost.gr)
UPDATE: After testifying to prosecutor the six were released. They denied the accusations, claiming that their role was merely advisory and not binding for the board of HRADF that had the final say.
One of the accused is the Spanish president of Property Agency of the Spanish Government, another is his Italian counterpart and the president of the Stock Exchange of Slovakia. All three participated in the Council of Experts that recommended the sale of public assets to the Board of HRADF.
The proparties concerned are: 5 buildings of the ministries of Culture, Interior, Justice, Health and Education, 13 tax office buildings and 5 buildings of the Greek Police. (ProtoThema)
UPDATE: pressure worked – the six were released
The absurdity of the Sale & Lease Back for state properties in the context of Privatization was mentioned already when the HRADF agreement was signed and part of it was leaked to the press. The scandalous provisions of the agreement came recently back on focus, when it turned out that the state was paying €220,000 per month for an empty building.
Let me think: What exactly was the HRADF’s point of Privatizing & Lease Back public properties? That the Greek state sells assets, receives X sum of money to pay lenders and leases back the sold properties paying XX sums of money to the new owners?
At the end of the day, the EU Commission will tell Greece that “immunity for EU technocrats” was one of the “prior actions” the country has to fulfill towards its lenders in order to receive the bailout tranche…
But maybe M Schinas is right! Greeks must be a very un-thankful folk if they do not appreciate the work of European experts at the Privatization Fund, especially when the latter assist Greece to improve its economy and find its way back to growth.
PS Go to supermarket now to grab some growth with the new VAT of 24%.