NEWS

Former Hellenic Postbank chairman to face magistrate

The former chairman of Hellenic Postbank (TT), Angelos Filippidis (photo), was expected to defend himself before a magistrate next week in connection with a scandal linking the state lender to millions of euros in unsecured loans following his arrest in Istanbul late on Friday.

With the help of Turkish authorities, Greek police traced Filippidis to a hotel in Taksim Square and detained him on an international arrest warrant.

The authorities traced the former bank chairman using his cell phone signal, police said. Sources said he had on him more than 25,000 euros in six different and a Swiss residence permit. His extradition to Greece was approved on Saturday.

Filippidis expressed surprise at his arrest, noting that he had contacted Greek media, and the magistrate handling the probe, last week and had booked a flight to Athens for Monday. Filippidis repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in several phone calls to the Greek media last week, insisting that he would justify “each and every one” of the loans under investigation.

A total of 25 people have been charged with fraud and money laundering in connection with the scandal miring TT, which issued half a billion euros in suspicious loans between 2007 and 2012, according to a prosecutor’s report. The bulk of this – some 300 million euros in loans – was issued between the fall of 2008 and fall 2009, when Filippidis was at the lender’s helm, according to Bank of Greece inspectors. According to a BoG report, TT issued loans without guarantees and with favorable terms to several companies, some overindebted ones, with much of the money ending up in the personal bank accounts of some of the business owners who benefited.

Several prominent businessman have been embroiled in the scandal, including Alpha TV channel and Interamerican insurance firm owner Dimitris Kontominas, Kyriakos Griveas and Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, who is in pretrial custody for embezzlement relating to another case.

According to prosecutors, 17 million euros in loans given to Griveas was traced to bank accounts in his name and that of his wife while part of the 110 million euros given to Kontominas was used by the latter to purchase a property for his daughter in the United Kingdom. Kontominas is due face a magistrate on Tuesday.

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