SYRIZA leader Tsipras covers ex-Minister Pappas amid Kalogritsas “White House” backlash

The former SYRIZA Minister is alleged to have facilitated a loan of 3 million euros in 2016 to Kalogritsas for a TV license bid

Major opposition party SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras covered his close associate and former Minister of State Nikos Pappas, following the backlash caused by revelations published on Sunday by PROTO THEMA newspaper implicating Mr. Pappas with an alleged case of conflict of interest involving pro-SYRIZA sub-contractor Christos Kalogritsas.

Speaking at a SYRIZA meeting on Tuesday, Mr. Tsipras said the party had to “raise the walls of defence against the attacks the party and its members were facing”, insinuating the recent revelations. The former PM went on to urge his leftists comrades to “raise a collective bulwark against the attacks of the old political system”.

Mr. Pappas, and SYRIZA were implicated by Christos Kalogritsas, as the sub-contractor appears to have received €3 million in backing from CCC, a large Arabian contracting company, after the intervention of the then government of SYRIZA in 2016, in order to support Kalogritsas’s  TV license tender during the competition held under the ministry of Nikos Pappas.

In the documents released exclusively by PROTO THEMA, the businessman used the code name “White House” to refer the the PM’s Office, with the report citing court documents of the lawsuit which was recently tried.

The documents published were from a batch of evidence from the Athens Court of First Instance for a lawsuit that was tried last Wednesday, in which Mr. Kalogritsas claims in writing and through his lawyers that he had received under the coordination, supervision and guidance of “White House”, (i.e The PM’s Office- Maximos Mansion), 3 million euros in 2016 as a down payment to take part in the competition for television licenses, which was eventually deemed void and null by the Council of State.

According to the report, during the hearing the company’s lawyers wanted to know what the “White House” referred to, receiving Kalogritsa’s response: “When we say ‘White House’ we mean the Maximos Mansion and Nikos Pappas “.

In order for Mr. Kalogritsas to take part in the tender for the TV permits, he had to present funds as guarantees for his financial background. According to his allegations in court, this was made possible by the conclusion of a virtual contract in the United Arab Emirates. A company called “Sagittarius” received the 3 million euro advance payment and then vanished. The foreign company appealed to the Swiss Arbitration Court in Geneva demanding a refund and was acquitted last April. The side of Kalogritsas, however, claims that the contracts were fictitious, the construction work a pretext, and the money given was a down payment for the company to participate in the TV license competition.

In 2016, Kalogritsas had managed to win one of the four television licenses under the Pappas Law, but failed to pay the first instalment of 18.5 million euros. However, a series of media reports about his dubious tax statements, which revealed he had resorted to a loan based on a pasture land plot to fund his bid for the TV license and the favourable loan terms he was offered by the Bank of Attica, as concluded by a Bank of Greece audit, exposed the improper procedures.