July 31, 2019
ATHENS – The Greek Parliament on July 31 lifted the immunity of former alternate health minister Pavlos Polakis from prosecution, paving the way for him to be investigated for allegedly secretly recording a phone call with Bank of Greece Gov. Yannis Stournaras.
Polakis, from the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, also will face charges of slander made by the head of the workers’ union of Greece’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO), Stamatis Poulis.
SYRIZA lawmakers walked out of the debate following a 30-minute harangue by Polakis during which he ripped the process as an “act of political prosecution” designed to conceal corruption inside KEELPNO.
The combative lawmaker – who had been a kind of political pit bull for former Premier Alexis Tsipras, snapping at political rivals – accused the Conservative government that took power in a July 7 snap elections of a “clear act of political persecution,” said Kathimerini.
After that, SYRIZA’s 86 lawmakers in the 300-member body walked out in protest but not before he also said New Democracy had committed an “immoral act of revanchism,” in retaliation for him and his party going after the Conservatives repeatedly during their 4 1/2-year reign.
The phone call came to light in February when Polakis was Alternate Health Minister and was upset a loan he had received became public and got the attention of news services internationally.
After the call was revealed, Stournaras asked for a probe of Polakis, who has immunity unless lifted by Parliament, and said that the-then minister was interfering with the independence of the central bank and trying to tell him how to do his job.
He also accused Stournaras of leaking the loan details to the press after being informed by his “associates” in Attica Bank, which approved the 100,000-euro ($113,261) loan that was secured as a second mortgage on a home in Crete that already had a 300,000-euro mortgage ($339,782) against it as collateral.
Stournaras denied being behind the leaked story that appeared in the newspaper Proto Thema although he and SYRIZA and Tsipras were feuding openly at the time.
Polakis said if Stournaras didn’t investigate rivals of SYRIZA that, “I will come down there and will not leave if you do not order an inquiry,” the recording transcripts said.
Polakis confirmed he obtained the loan, saying on Facebook that he was forced to seek the funds “to meet family and political life needs,” setting off a furor from his many critics who said he got favorable treatment with the bank fast-tracking a loan others can’t get yet.