Crucial institutional questions – The man for all seasons Sabby Mionis!
Critical questions, in many directions, arise from businessman Sabby Mionis’ conversation with former SYRIZA government minister Nikos Pappas, which the businessman submitted to the Parliamentary Pre-Investigation Committee, which is investigating allegations of Dimitris Papagelopoulos’ interventions in court cases of political interest. Questions that focus mainly on the institutional functions of any government.
The first of these is the meeting of the then Minister of State, a minister who was at the core of the SYRIZA government, next to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, with a “controversial” businessman, who was already being checked for a number of issues. The meeting took place in Cyprus, while as it turns out, from the first lines, Nikos Pappas was there for a private visit, but not a secret one.
The minister himself says in the conversation that he had informed the state authorities of Cyprus about his presence at a “baptism”, so that his presence would not be interpreted politically, as Cyprus was in a pre-election. What is not clear, however, is whether the meeting with the businessman was accidental, or whether preparations had been made.
Tailor made government
However, the businessman’s demands from the minister are shocking. During the conversation, Mionis asks Nikos Pappas, and even in an urgent manner, to find the names of the FBI agents who are investigating his actions. Even more shocking is the fact that, through the conversation, he seems to know not only about the arrival of the agents, but also about their origin and the composition of the task force.
He also claims that his information was passed on by the then Secretary-General to the Ministry of Justice, with the responsibility for Combating Corruption (and especially the investigation of the Lagarde, Falciani, etc. lists) and later Deputy Minister of Sports Giorgos Vassiliadis. Mioni is asking for the names to “kill”, as he says, the case in the USA. He also claims that Vassiliadis could not get them, because they did not give them to him, but also that he continues to search for them.
In general, through the conversation, the businessman appears to be able to move very comfortably among the ministers of the then SYRIZA government, but also with services in charge of state security, as he appears to be conveying criticism on Papagelopoulos, even from the then head of state intelligence agency EYP Giannis Roubatis.
However, the “ease” with which the Mitsotakis government “trusts” the businessman in question, by introducing “products of criminal endeavors” (i.e. illegal recordings) to Parliament in an anti-institutional way, as Nikos Pappas denounces, also raises questions. The new announcement of Mioni and especially the transcript of the conversation he had in 2016 with Nikos Pappas have, however, caused a political earthquake.
“The store’s agenda”
In the conversation that Mionis submitted, Nikos Pappas states that “Papagelopoulos has his own agenda”, which “bends the agenda of the store”, obviously meaning SYRIZA and its government. He is also said to have said that “some people are making money” and even “a lot of money”. Something that shows – always during the conversation that took place on May 21, 2016 – that the minister sees this level of politics with understanding, but not the imposition of an external agenda within the “store”.
In his announcement, however, Mionis notes that from the first moment he had sworn in, that “Nikos Pappas has absolutely nothing to do with any act of extortion.” He reiterated this, stressing that the former minister “tried to be part of the solution, without having anything to do with the problem”. He claims, however, that Nikos Pappas “knew, like many others, that Dimitrios Papagelopoulos and his team “had their own agenda”.
At the same time, Mioni explains that he made the decision to record his conversation with Nikos Pappas in May 2016 to protect himself, his associates and his family, but also to prove, “in the absence of another means of legal protection” the”blackmail”, which he says he received. The businessman also states that “two months earlier, on March 10, 2016, Dimitrios Papagelopoulos had blackmailed me, directly, in Nikos Pappas’ office, asking me to allegedly pay “expenses” to Ioannis Filippakis, when I owed him nothing.” He finally claims that since he flatly refused to pay, in less than forty days, various actions have been taken to target him.
He even specifically states that:
a) Within 7 days, prosecutors Chr. Ntzouras and G. Kaloudis, under the supervision of prosecutor El. Touloupakis traveled to Paris to meet Herve Falciani for the second time, in order to continue a preliminary examination against me and my associates. A preliminary examination, which, as he states, began with a false complaint by Ioannis Filippakis, which was finally shelved in June 2019. He also claims that, “in the context of this filing, the Greek Police report from 4/1/2019 was also evaluated, which relied on the false allegations of the members of the criminal gang, Ioannis Filippakis and Alexandros Tarkas”.
b) On 23.03.2016, thirteen days later, the same Prosecutors, El. Touloupaki, Chr. Ntzouras and G. Kaloudis, ordered a preliminary examination against me and against my lawyer, Stavros Papastavrou, for the crime of using a false certificate against the State, etc.
c) Thirty-eight days after my refusal to succumb to blackmail, the Financial Police raided the house where my elderly parents lived, on the eve of the Jewish Passover, apparently for intimidation, from which nothing reprehensible emerged.
d) Forty days later, a judicial assistance request answered by the Ministry of Justice of Cyprus was “buried”. This acquitted both me and my lawyer Stavros Papastavrou, dismissing the charges against us.
The businessman claims that, due to all the above, “it was a one-way street to record the conversation with Nikos Pappas, so as to reveal what was happening and to protect myself and my legitimacy.” Finally, he notes that it is in honor of Nikos Pappas that “in his testimony before the Pre-Investigation Committee, he explicitly agreed to the publication of the relevant audio material”.
The Mareva case
In the same conversation, Nikos Pappas allegedly “once again” raises the issue of the lawyer Stavros Papastavrou talking about Mrs. Mareva Grabowski, the current PM’s wife. He even notes that Papastavrou’s refusal to enter into this reasoning “may have been one of the reasons why, in his case, there was a complete abolition of the presumption of innocence and a substantial presumption of guilt, in a series of proceedings in which he was eventually acquitted.”
The government spokesman also referred to the issue, saying that during the briefing of the political editors, “Mr. Pappas is said to have admitted that he was aware of the existence of a criminal circuit with the participation of Mr. Papagelopoulos.” He even asked if the then Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras knew about all this and called on him to answer.
Mr. Petsas also referred to the alleged urgings for lawyer Stavros Papastavrou to “speak” against Mareva Grabowski, the wife of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and noted that “if what is described in this announcement and in the relevant material deposited by Mr. Mioni then we are faced with the revelation of a ruthless parastate.”
Storm of reactions
Ruling New Democracy (ND) party proposed that the audio excerpt of Nikos Pappas’ conversation with Sabby Mionis be forwarded to the prosecutor, as well as the testimony given by Nikos Pappas to the special Parliamentary Committee for Preliminary Examination. This is because, according to the estimates of its deputies who are participating in the Committee, “the dialogues submitted today by the businessman Sabby Mionis are significantly different from what Mr. Pappas had said to the committee”. KINAL party also aligned with the proposal of ND.
For his part, the former SYRIZA minister and current shadow economy minister spoke of a “ridiculous distraction by ND after the shocking revelations about Raikou and (former PM) Samaras.” Nikos Pappas, after referring to “fabricated talks – crime products” and “mafia methods”, claimed that all this comes “after the shocking revelations that the husband of the former Corruption Prosecutor, Eleni Raikou, is involved in the big Novartis scandal and that she received money from these sources in her bank account.
Nikos Pappas also said that “for whom and for what dealings is (Sabby Mionis) working” will soon be revealed, while he characterized the phenomenon of ” products of criminal activities against legally elected ministers of the government of Greek democracy” as worrying. The SYRIZA MP added that the sole responsibility for this lies with ND, as well as those who set up, as he said, “this hilarious tragedy in their despair to show the Novartis scandal as a conspiracy and Dimitris Papagelopoulos as its architect”.
Earlier, former Deputy Justice Minister Dimitris Papagelopoulos commented that “Mioni made this move today to save Samaras, Raikou and himself.” He also claimed that this happened after the revelations about the money laundering and the revelations about Mrs. Raikou’s husband. “It simply came to our notice then. An international ring that circulates money worldwide at the expense of weak countries such as the Dominican Republic and Northern Macedonia. And the collaborator of the former prime minister was the protagonist in this,” Papagelopoulos said.
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