Greece loses court case on Hellas Gold

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued a decision on Thursday against Greece regarding the sale of the Cassandra gold mines in Halkidiki, northern Greece, to Hellas Gold at a price (11 million euros) that was below their real market value (and therefore involved subsidies in breach of EU rules) and did not include transaction taxes.

The court ruled that despite the fact that the nonpayment of taxes by Hellas Gold had been considered an illegal state subsidy, Athens never demanded its payment. The court has ordered Greece to recover the amount immediately.

The European Commission had asked Greece to retrieve the illegal subsidies of 15.3 million euros from Hellas Gold by June 23, 2011, and inform Brussels of its action. The Commission resorted to the ECJ last year after Athens failed to comply with the request. “Greece has not met its obligations,” said the court.