Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis has reportedly recorded a phone conversation with the governor of Bank of Greece, Yannis Stournaras, and leaked the content to a SYRIZA-friendly media outlet, Greek media report on Tuesday.
In the focus of the conversation were the two “consumer loans” totaling €100,000 Polakis took from the Attica Bank and the urgent inquiry Stournaras launched on the issue.
According to Greek media, Polakis demanded that Stournaras also probes loans issued to certain opposition parties, politicians and media. “Otherwise I will come down there and will not leave if you do not order an inquiry,” Polakis is seen telling Stournaras in the transcripts of the recording.
Stournaras called for a urgent meeting with the management of Attica Bank on Monday in order to inquire into two loans totaling 100,000 euros that were granted to Minister Polakis. the alternate health minister had reportedly secured them against a property that already has a 300,000-euro mortgage.
Polakis phone call came just a few hours later, after the inquiry result was that Attica Bank had not violated banking rules by granting Polakis the loans. “It is not customary for consumer loans secured against an indebted asset to surpass half that amount,” sources told media.
The case of Polakis loans was revealed by a Sunday newspaper close to main opposition party, New Democracy and triggered an outrage as it is not easy for “common Greeks” to receive a loan from a bank. It has been alleged that the minister took the loan beginning of 2019.
The secret recording and the leak to the press drew Stournaras’ angry reaction who speaks of “institutional diversion” and calls on the Prime Minister and Justice to protect the independence of the Bank of Greece.
“It is historically unprecedented in any European country that a government minister intervenes by impersonating by telephone a telephone conversation that was not publicly conducted and selectively announcing fake excerpts to a friend of the media for disclosure in his own interest.”
The recording was conducted “without my consent and in violation of the relevant provisions of the Penal Code” Stournaras said in a statement on Tuesday and called on judicial authorities to intervene on their own initiative.”
“The indefatigable effort by Minister Polakis to influence the Bank of Greece Administration and myself in the way we perform our duties is a brutal institutional diversion. I urge the Prime Minister and the government to preserve the independence of the Bank of Greece, guaranteed in European and Greek law,” Stournaras said.
In a statement to daily Ta Nea, Sournaras said the minister had told him that he was recording the conversation but he thought Polakis “was joking.”
In a statement Tuesday noon, Polakis said that he indeed called Stournaras but he neither recorded the conversation nor he threatened him.
Main opposition cheers that Polakis has blackmailed Stournaras, and Greeks closely follow a new tragicomic chapter of the book entitled “Politics in Greece.”