Greek Minister Accused of Illegally Recording Phone Call with Central Banker



Minister Pavlos Polakis (left) and Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras

Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras on Tuesday called for the intervention of judicial authorities over the recording of a telephone call with a government minister which was leaked to a news site.

In an angry press release, Stournaras called for the intervention of a prosecutor after the recording of his conversation with Alternate Minister of Health Pavlos Polakis. The Bank official states that the recording was made “without my consent, and in violation of the relevant provisions of the criminal code.”

Alternate Health Minister Pavlos Polakis, whose 100,000-euro loan from Attica Bank is under the scrutiny of the Bank of Greece, called Stournaras on Monday.

According to the leaked transcript, Polakis demanded that the central banker also call for a probe into loans granted to certain political parties, officials and media. “Otherwise I will come over and will not leave until you order an inquiry,” Polakis said to Stournaras.

Although the content of the conversation has been confirmed by Polakis, he denies that he himself actually recorded the phone call. The transcript was published by a pro-government news site.

Stournaras said he had not granted permission for the recording, which he described as a “gross institutional transgression.”

“Yesterday’s action by a representative of the executive branch to attempt to influence the manner in which I carry out my duties in such an unprecedented fashion, compels me to provide clear explanations,” Stournaras stated.

He added that judicial authorities need to intervene over the matter by virtue of their office. The bank governor also called on Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the government to safeguard the Bank of Greece’s independence.

The opposition New Democracy (ND) party has now accused Polakis of blackmailing the governor of the Bank of Greece.

ND has also asked Attica Bank officers to explain the reasons why they granted such a large personal loan to the minister, using an already-mortgaged property as collateral.

Minister Polakis’ loan was also granted at a time when Greek banks are under the gun to use very strict criteria regarding the granting of loans to everyone in Greece.