Thursday February 13,2014 : OPAP SALE UNDER INVESTIGATION
Prosecutor to probe transparency, merits and potential conflicts of interest in deal
Athens prosecutor Ioannis Sevis is reportedly investigating the sale of the Greek State's 33 percent stake in OPAP which was bought by the Czech-led private equity consortium Emma Delta for Euro 652 million in August last year
According to a Financial Times report, the investigation was launched just weeks after Emma Delta completed its financial obligation and replaced the chief executive and other board members with its own appointees.
Procedures undertaken by the privatisation agency Taiped will be under scrutiny in terms of transparency, merit-based and possible conflicts of interest.
The Financial Times report specifically highlights “An unusual piece of legalization approved by the Greek parliament last April – shortly before Emma Delta and Third Point, the US hedge fund, were named as shortlisted bidders for OPAP – has raised questions about the country’s commitment to transparent procedures in line with EU gaming industry standards.”
When the amendment was passed, the obligation of the Greek gaming regulatory body to carry out a probity check on potential buyers was effectively frozen at the time.
Other aspects involve the suitability of members of the Emma Delta bid vehicle specifically related to their past standing with the law and criminal activities.
InfoPowa readers will recall numerous protracted delays in the lead up to Emma Delta being awarded the deal which included the dismissal of then chairman of Taiped (formerly HRADF) Stelios Stavridis.
Stavridis was fired for ethical reasons after he was spotted on board Dimitris Melissanidis' private jet, a major stake holder in Emma Delta, prior to the deal being finalised. Stavridis' departure marked the third chairman the HRADF had lost in the twelve months prior.