ING to pay $1 million to settle fraud targeting Greek community in US

BOSTON (AP) – ING Financial Partners Inc has agreed to pay more than $1 million (-710,000) over an investment scheme in which a representative of the firm failed to repay investors from members of the Greek community in Massachusetts. An investigation by Secretary of State William Galvin’s office focuses on Peter Tzamalas, a 50-year-old man whose whereabouts are unknown. Tzamalas was acting as a registered representative of ING when he used his contacts in the Greek community and fluency in Greek to build his investment business, according to Galvin, whose office named Tzamalas and ING in a civil complaint. Investigators say money from Greek immigrant investors ended up in Tzamalas’s personal bank account, and also covered accounts he had with casinos. Galvin’s complaint alleged ING failed to supervise Tzamalas. The settlement requires ING to pay more than $1 million to victims, as well as a $100,000 (-70,591) fine. Peter Margolis, a spokesman for ING, said he was pleased the company is putting the matter behind it. ING Financial Partners is a subsidiary of ING Group, the Netherlands-based financial services company. Gambling debts Donald Bertrand, an attorney for Tzamalas, said his client borrowed money from investors and used some of the cash to get out from under gambling debts. Tzamalas repaid some of the cash, but the payments eventually stopped when his debts became too great, Bertrand said. Bertrand said many of the investors «were looking for big returns» and «taking their chances.» Tzamalas has not been criminally charged. Bertrand said he did not know his client’s specific whereabouts, but knows that he has recently lived outside Massachusetts. Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff said the FBI is seeking to find Tzamalas, and a case is pending against him from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a non-government organization that oversees the investment industry.