The president of Greece’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, Nikos Sakellariou, suspended a session yesterday in which judges were set to examine the constitutionality of a recent government auction of TV licenses.
In what appears to be a judicial coup d etat, Sakellariou first attempted to influence the judges to accept that the TV license procedure was outside the law or legal scrutiny, and then, when he failed to do so, to have taken the drastic step of suspending the session altogether.
The auction of the four TV licenses has been mired in controversy with one winner accused of getting a license only because of his close ties to the government of Alexis Tsipras forced to withdraw after financial irregularities emerged.
The father of construction oligarch Yannis Kalogritsas has close ties with two ministers of the SYRIZA-ANEL government and has been granted several public works contracts by the current government, and is allegedly behind the TV license bid.
A probe into Christos Kalogritsas’ tax returns showed that he declared no income at all for four successive years even though his bank accounts showed inflows of more than €12m.
Kalogritsas, his father and his two sisters are being investigated for tax evasion and money laundering for 33 million euros combined.
The revelation of tax evasion on such a huge scale by Alexis Tsipras’ cronies comes as the government is issuing ten thousand confiscation orders a day to confiscate money directly from bank accounts of hard pressed Greeks.
Furthermore, Kalogritsas put up as a guarantee for a 100 million euro loan from Attica bank to pay for the license two pieces of undeveloped real estate on the island of Ithaca, which it said had been offered by a business associate ahead of a planned €700m tourist development to be constructed by Kalogritsas.
But a local official on Ithaca told the FT: “Given real estate prices on the island, these properties should be valued at less than €10m.”
Six private television stations will be shut down, with more than 2,000 job losses, if the licensing process is completed. Only two of the existing TV stations belonging to shipping oligarchs got licenses.
Critics say the license procedure is an attempt by Alexis Tsipras and his cronies to silence what remains of the critical media in Greece. That is not much, dear readers of this blog.
But one sided and low quality though the disqualified six channels may be, they are nevertheless sure to be better than just four propaganda channels owned by crony and criminal oligarchs.