Aspis chief sentenced to eight years

A former bank chief was sentenced to eight years jail on Monday for fraud and forgery, court officials said, the first major conviction resulting from an anti-corruption drive ahead of a parliamentary election on Sunday.

An Athens court convicted Pavlos Psomiadis, former chief of small banking and insurance group Aspis, on charges of forging documents to keep his business afloat.

Corruption and cronyism are endemic in Greece. But no politician or senior businessman had been convicted in recent years, fueling popular frustration with mainstream parties that pledge to uphold the debt-laden country's international bailout and remain in the euro zone.

"He was found guilty of fraud and forgery,» a court official said. The conviction stemmed from a forged letter of credit for over 550 million euros ($729 million) that Psomiadis submitted to regulators in 2009.

Aspis was one of the first business groups to fall prey to the country's economic crisis. T-bank, a small lender that emerged from the wreckage of the group, was nationalized late last year under the terms of the country's EU/IMF bailout. [Reuters]