NEWS

Probe into ATEbank loans put damage at 5 bln euros

TAGS: Economy, Business, Politics

The Greek state suffered damages of around 5 billion euros as a result of the illegal loans provided by the now-defunct Agricultural Bank of Greece (or ATEbank) between 2000 and 2012, according to a report compiled by the Anti-Money Laundering Authority that has been forwarded to the Athens prosecutor’s office.

Minister of State for Combating Corruption Panayiotis Nikoloudis revealed the news on Tuesday. He said that the preliminary investigation had revealed just the “tip of the iceberg” and that the judicial probe would uncover the full extent of wrongdoing by bank officials and those who benefited from the loans it provided.

“Then it will become clear to everyone that the ATEbank scandal is not just an economic scandal but mainly a persistent and long-term well-planned political scandal that weighs on almost all those who were responsible for governing the country during the relevant period,” said the minister in his statement.

“ATEbank was used for years as the pool from which those in power drew from to satisfy their political ambitions. It was the main vehicle for the chief proponents of state-reliant capitalism. It was the point where business activity met criminal activity.”

Prosecutors are expected to investigate more than 1,300 loans that were issued without the necessary guarantees being demanded by the bank. ATEbank was absorbed by Piraeus Bank in 2013.

Nikoloudis said that the judiciary faces a tough task in investigating all the suspicious loans but stressed that Greeks need to see that authorities are making an effort to respond to the public’s desire for “catharsis and punishment.”

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