A team of inspectors from the General State Accounting Office will be probing the finances of the Greek National Tourism Organization (GNTO), it was revealed on Thursday, after five arrests over an embezzlement scam and claims of 12 million euros missing from the organization’s coffers.
The Tourism Ministry ordered a deeper probe into the GNTO’s finances after general secretary Panos Livadas admitted to there being some “gaps in the accounts,” following the arrest earlier this week of five people, including a former GNTO consultant, on embezzlement charges.
Accountants inspected the organization’s books earlier this month and found a 12-million-euro shortfall, former general secretary Nikos Karahalios claimed. Karahalios left the organization on December 20, a day after which an aide of his attempted to cash a GNTO check bearing the official’s signature. Karahalios insists that his signature was forged and says he was unaware of the incident.
The main suspect is 39-year-old Costas Vasilakos, a former special adviser to Karahalios, who attempted to cash the 147,000-euro check. According to a representative of the organization’s employees, Constantinos Rantos, as well as police sources, Vasilakos had succeeded in getting his hands on two GNTO checkbooks, one of which was used to write out the contentious check. Rantos also told Kathimerini that Vasilakos applied pressure on staff to divulge the organization’s banking details.