The parliament plenary late Tuesday voted to refer three former New Democracy (ND) government ministers to a Special Judicial Council over controversial Vatopedi Monastery-state land swaps, while no action was taken against the other two of the five former ND ministers whose referral had been recommended by an ad hoc parliamentary preliminary investigation committee that investigated possible criminal liability in the affair.
The plenary decided the referral of former agriculture ministers Evangelos Bassiakos and Alexandros Kontos and former deputy finance minister Petros Doukas, but not of former minister George Voulgarakis and former government spokesman and minister of state Theodoros Roussopoulos in the land swap case referring to Lake Vistonida and surrounding areas.
The plenary on Tuesday decided the referral of Bassiakos, Kontos and Doukas only for instigation and complicity in breach of trust against the state, and not for moral instigation of money laundering and fraud against the state, as recommended by the parliamentary probe committee.
The Special Judicial Council will rule on whether or not the five former ministers will be referred to a Special Court on ministers' accountability.
By a majority vote of the ruling PASOK MPs sitting on the committee, the parliamentary preliminary investigation committee probing possible criminal liability in the affair had recommended in its conclusions in mid-October the referral of Roussopoulos on charges of moral instigation in illicit property benefit on the part of Vatopedi Monastery and third parties through felony acts of fraud and breach of duty at the expense of the state, and Kontos, Doukas and Bassiakos on charges of moral instigation of legitimisation of revenues from criminal activities, felony breach of duty and fraud that produced illicit property benefit on the part of Vatopedi Monastery and third party companies of invisible and visible shareholders who purchased the real estate properties conceded to the monastery, and as accessories of Roussopoulos. It had also recommended referral of Voulgarakis with "serious indications" of having committed the felony of violation of duty resulting in loss at the expense of the state.
Separate reports were submitted to the probe committee by the representatives of the five parliamentary parties sitting on the committee.
According to critics of a series of controversial deals, the state exchanged prime real estate holdings throughout Greece, including buildings in the Athens Olympic Village, for remote tracts of land where development is either restricted or prohibited, such as forestland, RAMSAR-protected areas around Lake Vistonida, and even archaeological sites.
This specific case concerns suspect land deals by the Vatopedi Monastery, where low-value property on the shores of Lake Vistonida was exchanged for prime pieces of public real estate in other parts of the country in transactions carried out by Hellenic Public Real Estate Corporation which were approved by ministers.