Greece probes Orthodox church real estate Deal

11/8/2010


ATHENS – Agence France-Presse

Judicial authorities in Greece are looking into the sale of prime Orthodox Church property near Athens that revived memories of a multi-million monastery land swap scandal two years ago, news reports said on Wednesday.

The Orthodox Church of Greece last year sold 4,000 square metres (43,000 square feet) of land in the affluent coastal district of Vouliagmeni to a local council employee for 14 million euros ($18.4 million), Ta Nea newspaper reported.

A day later, the property was resold to three offshore companies for 15.5 million euros, it added.

An Athens prosecutor has filed preliminary charges over the transaction itself, as the alleged perpetrators have yet to be identified.

Further questions have arisen over the transaction, as the Church had previously sued the local council employee for illegally occupying the property, in a case in which a decision was pending, Ta Nea said.

Two years ago, Greece was rocked by revelations of a series of property swaps between the state and the Vatopedi monastery in northern Greece which cost taxpayers millions of euros.

The Vatopedi scandal prompted the resignation of two government ministers and the dismissal of other officials.

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