Parliamentary committee finds no evidence of wrongdoing in funding of parties, media

Greek Parliament / Deutsche Welle

A parliamentary committee that oversaw an investigation into the financing of political parties and media organizations by Greek banks has been concluded without finding evidence to support criminal allegations against specific politicians, eKathimerini reports.

The parliamentary probe into how the opposition conservative and socialist parties racked up hundreds of millions of euros in unserviced debt while in government, was announced by Alexis Tsipras  in March of last year.

The two parties took turns in government for four decades before teaming up in 2012 to form a coalition government to implement Greece’s second international bailout by the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Centre-right New Democracy party owes €214m, mostly to the formerly state-controlled Agricultural Bank of Greece in loans that have not been serviced for almost a decade. The Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) owes over €120m, almost all to Agricultural Bank.

But both parties brushed aside the creditors’ proposals on overhauling the financing of political parties and making it more transparent. Under a new leader, Pasok sacked most of its staff and carried out an audit of the party’s accounts but failed to tackle its accumulated debt. New Democracy turned to private sponsors to finance the party’s operations while in government while similarly ignoring its debt.

Greece’s struggling media groups are believed to have combined non-performing loans of more than €1.2bn owed to the country’s four systemic banks.

The verdict of the investigation was announced to the media Monday by SYRIZA spokesman Spyros Lappas as the report was submitted to political parties. It means  that no preliminary inquiry committee will be set up,

With regard to Kathimerini SA, the report gave the company a clean bill of health, saying it was consistent with regard to its commitments to its lenders and that it has no overdue arrears.

The head of the panel, Chania MP Antonis Balomenakis, is to release a summary of the report on Monday before submitting the full document to Parliament Speaker Nikos Voutsis on January 23.

Sources: ekathimerini, FT