Greek paper apologizes for implicating Jewish businessman in scandal

ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — A Greek newspaper has published a rare public apology to a millionaire Greek -Israeli businessman, saying it wrongfully implicated him in a massive tax evasion scandal.

The mainstream Sunday newspaper To Vima said it had named Sabby Mionis as being on the so-called “Lagarde list” of about 2,000 prominent Greeks who had money stashed in Swiss bank accounts after being “misled by incorrect information.”

The full-page apology said that Mionis may have been singled out because he is Jewish and Israeli, which made him “a perfect target for the media and far-right politicians known for their anti-Semitic views.”

Greek authorities have questioned Mionis about an account containing some $725 million. Greek media have alleged that the account was linked to the mother of former Prime Minister George Papandreou.

Mionis has denied this, saying the account belonged to a mutual fund that he managed. He has repeatedly said he was being targeted because he is Jewish.

Analysts said the apology was likely the result of an agreement between Mionis, who immigrated to Israel in 1996, and the newspaper.

“I have no specific knowledge of this case, but from my experience, Greek newspapers never issue such apologies unless it the result of an agreement, maybe a lawsuit or the threat of one,” said Victor Eliezer, a prominent media analyst in Athens.

Mionis’ case made headlines in June when a leading lawmaker from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, Ilias Kasidiaris, implied that he is a Holocaust denier during a parliamentary debate on the scandal.

Mionis had refused to come to Greece to testify before a committee probing the scandal, saying there were Holocaust deniers on the committee.

“The Jew Sabby Mionis is key to this case,” Kasidiaris said. “He won’t come to this committee because there are Holocaust deniers on it. And indeed there are Holocaust deniers on it.”

Kasidiaris was apparently referring to himself, the only Golden Dawn lawmaker on the committee.

Golden Dawn emerged on the political scene last year, winning 7 percent of the vote, or 18 seats in the 300-member Parliament. Recent polls have indicated the party, which runs on a fierce anti-immigrant platform, now has about 12 percent of the population’s support.