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Protective umbrella for major financial offenders

18 September 2014 / 13:09:42  GRReporter
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Many famous Greeks continue to escape the strong arm of the law due to protections, as stated by chief auditor of the public administration Leandros Rakindzis during a hearing before the commission on institutions and transparency in the Greek Parliament.

"A law that relieves of responsibility the managements of public companies has recently been voted. Amnesty lies behind it but I am not qualified to say whether this is true or not. In general, there is a tendency to place bureaucratic and other obstacles. Have you seen anyone famous having been sentenced easily? Courts constantly issue exculpatory orders. I cannot appeal against them, I have no control over the criminal part of the cases. My attempts to bring to justice famous persons are faced with some obstacles. However, I cannot quote names," said Rakindzis to the commission members.

He made his statements days after Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde said in an interview with the Financial Times that she was threatened by rich Greek taxpayers in connection with her statements of tax evasion in Greece.

Her words provoked strong reactions in Greece as a result of which the prosecutor of the Supreme Court launched an investigation. In parallel, Minister of Justice Charalambos Athanasiou sent a letter to the Fund, requesting Lagarde to provide more details on the case.

The IMF spokesman confirmed that they received the letter but added that Lagarde herself is not in New York and that she has not made further comments on the matter. According to sources that are referred to by the Greek media, her statements were based on "old comments" and "threats" made via social networks and by mail.

For two of the most infamous defendants in a case of financial fraud, however, the hide-and-seek game played with the Greek judicial authorities has ended in favour of justice. The persons accused of participation in the draining of Hellenic Postbank, namely Kyriakos Griveas and Anastasia Vatsika, have been in Athens since last night and today they will appear before the prosecutor who is investigating the infamous case of the illegal bank lending. The British authorities had apprehended both spouses in London but then released them under restrictive conditions. The trial on their extradition to Greece began in July and despite the efforts of their lawyer to prevent their extradition from the UK, the court in London decided that they could not continue to hide there. They arrived at Athens airport on 17 September and they were delivered to the police officers who took the couple to the remand centre where they spent the night.

Griveas and Vatsika are accused of direct complicity in the unlawful discharge of professional duties by members of the bank management and in legalizing incomes from illegal activities. According to the indictment, in March and July 2009 the couple had obtained a bond issue worth 17 million euro for the newly established C&C International company, its main scope of activity being the organization of conferences and seminars, mostly in the medical field. The money was immediately granted, without any request for guarantees.

The court documents indicate that Griveas and Vatsika had withdrawn a significant part of the amount, about 15 million euro, and used the money to redeem three of their companies in Cyprus. In addition, Postbank along with C&C International company co-founded Postbank Green, the main activity of which was "green development." In October 2010, the new company obtained a 2.5 million euro loan from Postbank. According to the prosecutor's investigation, this money had been allocated to other firms owned by Griveas and Vatsika.

Tags: PoliticsCrime newsFinancial offendersChief auditor of the public administrationChristine LagardeIMFDraining of Postbank
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