Raids on firm of BoG chief's wife raise questions

Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras in a file photo.

TAGS: Economy, Politics, Banking

Investigators on Thursday carried out surprise raids on the company offices of Stavroula Nikolopoulou, the spouse of Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras, as well as the couple’s home, as part of a probe into the alleged mismanagement of state funding for the Hellenic Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KEELPNO).

The timing of the raids raised questions, coming just hours before the BoG issued its decision to reject the proposed candidates for the governing council of Attica Bank, a state-backed lender.

The central bank, whose decision was widely anticipated, explained that Panagiotis Roumeliotis, a former Greek envoy to the International Monetary Fund proposed to head Attica Bank’s managing board, had no executive experience at a bank. PASOK veteran Gerasimos Sapoutzoglou was among the other nominees rejected.

The bank was banned from issuing loans until the managing board issue has been solved.

In a statement, Nikolopoulou said the raids were unjustified, claiming “the real target is my husband.”

Stournaras, for his part, telephoned Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last night, according to sources, with the PM reassuring the banker that his cooperation with the government will not be affected by the judicial probe.

Chief corruption prosecutor Eleni Raikou ordered officers of the Financial Police to search the offices of Nikolopoulou’s company, Mindwork Business Solutions, which organizes conferences on health issues and which has cooperated with KEELPNO.

They turned up hundreds of company files and electronic archives which are to be examined by prosecutors.

There was also a raid on the offices of KEELPNO which has been the focus of a broader probe into its generous use of state funding for advertising campaigns.

According to a judicial official cited by The Associated Press, Nikolopoulou’s firm was involved in a cancer awareness publicity drive organized by a public health body in 2011.

A report last year claimed that some of KEELPNO’s state funding was mismanaged with unjustifiable sums spent on media campaigns. It found that 1.5 million euros spent by KEELPNO on campaigns from 2012 to 2014 comprised “social messages” that could have been aired for free.