The luxurious summer house of the 55-year old employee of IKA, Photo: Vima newspaper
The investigation of the Economic Police and the Social Insurance Institute (IKA) in connection with the large-scale fraud amounting to millions of euro, which was revealed in the Insurance Institute branch in Kallithea already includes over 500 people. This is what the head of the Economic Police Nikos Markou and the manager of IKA Rovertos Spyropoulos said. According to their statements it comes to theft in large amounts at the expense of IKA and huge profits for the members of the criminal organisation.
As Spyropoulos said, until this moment it has become clear that the amount from the 244 cases in which employees and their accomplices have stolen "fake" relief funds, exceed 6 million euro. However, they are currently investigating another 260 cases that could triple that amount and it might reach 18-20 million euro from 2003, when scammers started their criminal activities.
Among the 500 people under investigation there are also insured persons who might not have known that their data have been used for years by employees to steal the relief funds.
Among them is also the famous singer who was "shocked" when she found out that her name was used to steal relief funds.
The Head of the Economic Police Nikos Markou said the seven defendants have been stealing false relief funds in the following way: they themselves or their relatives and friends have "recruited" collaborators, walking into shops and businesses. They found employees and officials and told them that they could provide them relief funds. With their consent, they signed for the payment of benefits and retained the bigger share giving to the insured persons only a small amount.
Deputy Director of IKA Dionysus Patsouris stressed that the greed of the five women and the husbands of two of them against whom charges have been pressed, has passed all limits. As typical examples, he pointed out that among the cases with false aids drained over the years are those of an unmarried insured person who received childbirth benefit, the case of another unmarried insured person who received benefits for five children and the case of a third insured person for whom financial aid was granted for medical treatment at the time when the same person was in hospital for treatment.
Spyropoulos said that since August 2010 when he headed IKA, his priority had become the fight against corruption and misappropriation of government money. He stressed that the inspections will reach the highest levels in the hierarchy of the Insurance Institute and will continue in other branches as well, in addition to that in Kalithea, where gigantic fraud was revealed.
Both the Director of IKA and the head of the Economic Police refused to reveal how they arrived at detecting the deception. Spyropoulos noted that they didn’t come to the employees because of the luxury cars and property acquired from criminal activity. He stressed however, that from now on the way employees of the insurance institute acquire property will be inspected thoroughly. The director of IKA noted that for some time now the institute has had an electronic system that controls with absolute accuracy all financial transactions in IKA and can reveal potential weaknesses in each branch.
The charges that have been pressed
Prosecutors have already started proceedings against six persons. Accusations have been brought against four women and the husbands of two of them, who are accused of creating a criminal gang, forgery, fraud, misappropriation and legalization of proceeds of crime. An arrest warrant was also issued to a former employee of IKA in Laconia.
It became clear that one of the accused employees, who worked at the branch of IKA in Kalithea, and who is considered to be a major player in the fraud, has built a super luxury villa with an area of hundreds of square metres, a swimming pool, tropical garden and chapel near Barnabas.
The 55-year-old owner of the villa was Head of the 'Benefits' department in the IKA branch - Kalithea, and together with four of her colleagues she is accused of creating a true "factory" for fake relief funds and prescriptions for granting pensions.
At the home of the same worker the sum of 967 thousand euro was found hidden in boxes of diapers, and she also owns luxury cars. Her husband, a retired employee of the telecommunications company of Greece (OTE) is accused by the authorities of money laundering.
In the summer house in question, impressive are the stone buildings, garden with an area of nearly two acres with a pool and place to receive guests as well as the newly built chapel whose construction began in recent weeks, i.e. when the investigation of the scandal in IKA was in full swing!
According to sources, this property was purchased several years ago (when it was abandoned and in poor condition) by the high-level employee of IKA, who has invested heavily in recent years to get it repaired.
Police officers, who inspected the villa in Barnabas, said: "we were surprised by the luxury of this villa, owned by an employee of IKA and her husband, a retiree from the public sector".
Meanwhile, neighbours and acquaintances of the family of the 55-year employee say that she is a "humble and polite person" and seemed surprised by her participation in the scandal....