Businessman Lavrentiadis set to face magistrate

Businessman Lavrentis Lavrentiadis was arrested on Thursday on a series of criminal charges in connection with the alleged issuing by Proton Bank, in which he once held a controling stake, of millions of euros in bad loans.

The 40-year-old was arrested at his home in Vouliagmeni, southern Athens, police said, and is expected to face an investigating magistrate today on charges of fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and membership of a criminal gang. If convicted, he could face life in prison, court officials revealed.

His arrest came a day after an Athens court of first instance ordered the seizure of his assets and those of 29 of his former associates in a ruling that upheld an appeal by Proton Bank shareholders. The latter complained they had taken big losses after the bank allegedly issued hundreds of millions of euros in bad loans to Lavrentiadis’s group of companies.

The name of the businessman, who has denied all charges leveled against him and insists that he has been made a scapegoat, appeared last month on the so-called “Lagarde list” of Greeks with deposits at the Geneva branch of HSBC.

In April, the Council of Appeals Court Judges banned Lavrentiadis from leaving the country along with another five people implicated in the case of allegedly questionable loans of some 700 million euros made by Proton Bank to Lavrentiadis’s group of companies.

The court deemed that the six suspects were a flight risk, particularly Lavrentiadis, whose wealth would facilitate a quick departure abroad.