The former chief executive of the Agricultural Bank of Greece ATEbank Theodoros Pantalakis has admitted that he was the banker, who exported 8 million abroad in 2011. The Governor of the Bank of Greece George Provopoulos had reported the case in parliament. Pantalakis, however, stated that the money had been legal, the taxes on it had been paid and the amount had been spent for the purchase of property in London. In the past two years, the majority of Greek bankers and shipping tycoons have bought luxury properties in London in order to withdraw their money from the Greek banking system that was struggling to survive. Those transfers were recorded by the Bank of Greece and submitted to the tax authorities.
Theodoros Pantalakis is currently at his villa in the Aegean island of Paros and refused to comment. The former banker will have to face the economic committee of parliament in late August to explain the case. "Nobody has suggested that Mr. Pantalakis sent the funds abroad illegally. But there is clearly an ethical issue since he was serving as the head of a big state bank at the time of financial and economic crisis," a banker requesting anonymity commented for the Financial Times newspaper.
The former head of the nearly bankrupt Agricultural Bank stepped down when the fourth largest private bank in Greece Piraeus Bank acquired the healthy part of ATEbank for 95 million euro. Theodoros Pantalakis strongly opposed ATE’s "privatisation" deal. The Greek government was under tremendous pressure from the supervisory Troika to choose whether to privatise the unprofitable financial institution or to let it go bankrupt. The cabinet chose the first option.
During Pantalakis’ management, the Agricultural Bank granted the two major Greek parties PASOK and New Democracy loans worth 150 million euro, which have not been served so far. Again, following his order, the bank lent its insurance company another 130 million euro for one-off retirement payments.