Bank loan probe nets big fish

Au­thor­i­ties charge 25, ar­rest three over sus­pi­cious Hel­lenic Post­bank loans worth 500 mil­lion eu­ros

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

A prom­i­nent busi­ness­man and two for­mer ex­ec­u­tives of the state-con­trolled Hel­lenic Post­bank (TT) were ar­rested yes­ter­day on charges of money laun­der­ing and fraud against the state in con­nec­tion with a se­ries of loans the bank is al­leged to have is­sued to sev­eral en­trepreneurs be­tween 2007 and 2012, re­sult­ing in losses of some 500 mil­lion eu­ros.

A to­tal of 25 peo­ple – en­trepreneurs and bank of­fi­cials – have been charged in con­nec­tion with loans that the bank is al­leged to have granted without ad­e­quate guar­an­tees, pros­e­cu­tors said. War­rants were is­sued for the ar­rest of seven of those sus­pects and three were de­tained yes­ter­day.

They in­cluded Dim­itris Kon­tom­i­nas, the 75-year-old owner of Al­pha tele­vi­sion chan­nel and the In­ter­amer­i­can in­sur­ance com­pany, who was not taken into cus­tody as he was un­der­go­ing treat­ment in an Athens hos­pi­tal where he re­mained un­der po­lice guard last night. In a state­ment, Kon­tom­i­nas, who is ex­pected to de­fend him­self be­fore an in­ves­ti­gat­ing mag­is­trate next Tues­day, de­nied any wrong­do­ing and claimed that “there is not even a trace of il­le­gal­ity” in his busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties.

Apart from the two for­mer TT ex­ec­u­tives who were ar­rested yes­ter­day, pros­e­cu­tors have is­sued war­rants for an­other four, in­clud­ing TT’s for­mer Chair­man An­ge­los Filip­pidis. In com­ments to Skai TV yes­ter­day, Filip­pidis de­nied the charges and said he would ex­plain “each and ev­ery loan” when he re­turns from a busi­ness trip abroad. “All the loans were is­sued cor­rectly and if I could turn back time, I would is­sue them again,” he said.

War­rants are also out for the ar­rest of busi­ness­man Kyr­i­akos Griveas and his wife, who live abroad.

Ac­cord­ing to pros­e­cu­tors, one of the en­trepreneurs on the list of 25 sus­pects is Lavren­tis Lavren­tiadis, who is in pre­trial cus­tody on charges of em­bez­zling from Pro­ton Bank, in which he was a ma­jor stake­holder, to sup­port other busi­nesses.

The largest of the sus­pi­cious loans are al­leged to have gone to Kon­tom­i­nas and Lavren­tiadis, ac­cord­ing to the pros­e­cu­tor’s re­port, which said the lat­ter re­ceived 100 mil­lion eu­ros and the for­mer 110 mil­lion eu­ros. The re­port also refers to a credit card ap­par­ently is­sued il­le­gally by TT to Kon­tom­i­nas.

The 150-page re­port, com­piled by pros­e­cu­tor Popi Pa­pan­dreou, notes that much of the money from the loans was fun­nelled out of Greece via off­shore firms. The re­port said the loans were used "not to boost or ex­pand busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties but to in­crease the wealth of par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­u­als."

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