Ex-associate sheds light on tycoon

Former chemicals firm owner reveals how Lavrentiadis built empire with bad loans

Testimony given to an investigating magistrate by Constantinos Ballis, one of several former associates of Proton Bank’s one-time major shareholder Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, has reportedly shed light on how the latter built his business empire by transferring hundreds of millions of euros in loans to companies linked to his interests.

Ballis, the former owner of a chemicals firm based in Thessaloniki, submitted a 10-page deposition to magistrate Ioanna Hatzaki, in which he allegedly claims to have been convinced by Lavrentiadis into selling his firm for 5.5 million euros.

In an attempt to convince the magistrate that he had no idea that the sale or merging of companies had been aimed at securing illegal loans for Lavrentiadis, Ballis reportedly claimed to have only realized that he had been duped after the Lavrentiadis scandal broke in 2011.

The former chemicals firm owner reportedly claimed to have been unaware of an earlier deposition attributed to him that supported the interests of Lavrentidis. Ballis also allegedly blamed several one-time close associates of Lavrentiadis including Yiannis Papavassiliou, chief financial officer at Alapis SA, who was arrested over the weekend on a warrant issued by the prosecutor investigating the Proton Bank embezzlement case.

Papavassileiou is expected to be summoned in the coming days to answer to charges of fraud and money laundering.

Lavrentiadis and several other key suspects in the embezzlement case are currently in custody.