Former head of Greece’s High Court named in blackmail audio file

ATHENS — The former president of Greece’s Supreme Court, Vassiliki Thanou, has been named in an audio file in which a businesswoman is heard apparently trying to blackmail a former bank manager, seeking bribes for Thanou.

Thanou – who later served the former leader of the radical left SYRIZA – denounced him, but the report on the iefimerida.gr website led the High Court prosecutor to re-examine a 2016 case in which she alleged said an investigation had been called off.

She also said she could sue the site for defamation as the incident has sparked a storm in political circles as it involves many big names, including the apparent blackmail target, late businessman Andreas Vgenopoulos. , who ran the former Marfin bank.

The audio file is a recorded conversation between Vgenopoulos and businesswoman Dimitra Maratou, who said she was acting on Thanou’s behalf and appeared to be asking for money, using the terms “books” and “libraries” instead.

It came when Vgenopoulos, who came under fire for his bank demanding its employees show up on the day of massive 2010 austerity protests that saw one of the Athens branches burnt down and three workers killed , has also been caught up in court cases.

Thanou also briefly served as caretaker prime minister in 2015 after becoming legal adviser to then-prime minister and SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras when she left the High Court.

The allegations came more than six years after Vgenopoulos publicly claimed in 2016 at a press conference that he was being blackmailed by SYRIZA government agents that he did not named.

The filing also suggests that Thanou was blackmailing him even before she became head of the high court, demanding money in return for stopping the extradition to Cyprus of two of her associates. He died in November 2016.

Maratou is heard telling Vgenopoulos that he should send Thanou a book as a gift, stuffed full of money and when he asks how much can go, she says up to 50,000 euros ($56,016) would be enough.

She said it would be Thanou’s son, a lawyer, who would get the book, or books – at one point it is suggested that a “library” be sent to Thanou – and that Thanou would get all the money , which implies that the business woman would not receive any reduction.

He decided to press charges for extortion in May 2016 and gave evidence, but none of the witnesses he said should be testified and the case was dismissed after just five days and he died six months later.

Thanou was appointed Chief Justice in July 2015 by the then SYRIZA government and served until she reached the age limit of 67 in 2017 and became acting prime minister. between elections, the first woman to lead a Greek government.

She immediately sparked provocations by pushing the government she served to raise the retirement age for judges to 70, which would require changing the Constitution.

She became head of Tsipras’ legal office just 10 days after leaving the High Court, an unusual move for a member of the judiciary to align himself with a political party, with the profession demanding neutrality.

He then appointed her to head the country’s Competition Commission shortly before his defeat in a July 7, 2019 snap election by current Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ New Democracy conservatives.

Mitsotakis fired her, and she and three other commission members went to the nation’s highest administrative court to try to overturn the decision, but lost the case.

News of the audio file led New Democracy and the centre-left Movement for Change (KINAL) to speak of “dark networks” within the justice system and with conservatives demanding an explanation from Tsipras.

Leftists said the flap had nothing to do with them and it was up to the courts to figure out what happened while Thanou said the tape was ‘entertainment’ and said she didn’t. only had a casual relationship with Maratou.

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