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live Babis Vovos arrested for unpaid taxes

28 November 2012 / 12:11:45  GRReporter
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Babis Vovos, one of the major property developers in Greece has been arrested for tax evasion. The multimillionaire owes the state more than 1 million in outstanding contributions to the National Insurance Institute, taxes and other liabilities. Another 10 people were arrested for tax evasion as well.

According to the website of the company, from 1974 to date, Babis Vovos International Construction (BVIC) has built over 30 business centres in Athens with a total area exceeding 500 thousand square metres. Currently, the company owns or manages property with a total area of ​​200 thousand square metres worth over 1.2 billion euro.

In October this year, Babis Vovos applied for the protection of Article 99 of the Bankruptcy Code. The results from 2011 show that the company ended the year with a loss of 80.3 million euro and the amount of the net bank liabilities of the corporation is around 730 million euro.

Babis Vovos’ name is associated in Greece with intrusive business buildings of questionable aesthetics. They can be found mainly along Kifissias avenue. In late 1990 and at the beginning of the new century, they began to spring up like mushrooms one after another along one of the major avenues that connects the northern suburbs of Athens with the city centre. The distinctive features of the buildings of Babis Vovos are cubic shapes, glass facades and the constant sign with his name on top of the building.

The buildings constructed by Vovos house companies and organizations like Vodafone, Coca Cola, Cosmote, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Media Markt, Village Roadshow, Siemens, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), the ministry of urban development and public procurement management and a central administration.

One of the most controversial deals of Babis Vovos, which caused a scandal in Greece but without real consequences for the businessman, was the donation of the building, which houses the municipality of Maroussi. More than ten years ago, the businessman built the new city hall and the town planning service of the municipality for free.

Architect Maria Papasimeon is the chairman of the citizens’ union in the municipality of Maroussi. Eleven years ago, when the construction activity of Babis Vovos was booming, Papasimeon revealed in the Transit show some interesting details about the close cooperation of the businessman with the mayoral administration and the mayor at the time, Panagiotis Tzanikos. Maria Papasimeon said that the donation of the City Hall building would not be a problem if it had taken place in accordance with the existing legislation.

She insisted that mayoral authorities had ceded without compensation more than a few plots in Maroussi and had changed the use of a number of common areas without complying with the legal procedures in order for Vovos to be able to build his business centres. "The transactions are not transparent," said the architect. She presented several cases in which the mayor Tzanikos had allowed the developer to build up municipal roads and neighbourhood gardens without complying with standard procedures and practices. Among the plots built-up by Vovos were two acres of a public park, on which the next concrete building was erected. Papasimeon called the transactions illegal and unconstitutional.
 
The mayor at the time, Panagiotis Tzanikos, had firmly denied the presence of a conflict of interest or a breach of the law in the transactions with Vovos, but his words were not persuasive. Despite the fuss about Vovos’ empire, the buildings were being erected one after another during Greece’s times of growth. The residents of Maroussi neighbourhood ironically call it Vovopolis.

The first clouds came with the global financial crisis but those familiar with the situation claim that Vovos’ decision to invest in major construction projects in the region of Votanikos had the greatest impact on the financial status of the company. He decided to invest 120 million euro in the construction of another shopping centre. A complaint filed with the State Council by the residents of the area against the project stopped all construction works. The number of company employees dropped from the 400 - 500 during the good times to only 30, Greek media reports. L:ast year alone, 225 temporary or permanent employees left, who had not received salaries and whose contributions had not been paid.

 

Tags: Babis VovosProperty developerUnpaid taxesArrestTax evasion
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