NEWS

HSBC list produces new leads

In a list of some 2,000 bank accounts at a Geneva branch of HSBC that was handed to authorities in Athens in 2010 but not checked until now, Kathimerini understands that at least two relate to the Vatopedi Monastery and Proton Bank and are being investigated by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE).

Sources said that one of the accounts appears to belong to a party linked to the controversial property swap involving the monastery on Mount Athos, northern Greece, while the other is linked to the alleged embezzlement of funds at Proton.

It is not clear if the accounts belong to individuals or companies. SDOE will be passing any information it gathers to the prosecutors responsible for investigating the two cases.

The Vatopedi Monastery was accused of being heavily favored in a land swap with the government a few years ago, leading to taxpayers losing out on hundreds of millions of euros.

Proton Bank?s main shareholder Lavrentis Lavrentiadis and another 27 people face charges relating to allegedly questionable loans of some 700 million euros made by the lender to Lavrentiadis?s group of companies.

The charges include fraud, embezzlement, forming a criminal gang, money laundering and breach of faith. Lavrentiadis denies the charges.

There is a separate investigation being carried out into why Greek authorities failed to check the details of the list when they obtained it from the French government. This is being carried out by financial prosecutors Grigoris Peponis and Spyros Mouzakitis.

The two prosecutors are due to question two former SDOE chiefs, Yiannis Kapeleris and Yiannis Diotis, next week.

When questioned by a parliamentary committee last week, Kapeleris claimed he was just given 10 names on the list by then Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou.

Diotis, who succeeded Kapeleris, told the committee that the list could not be used to prosecute suspected tax evaders as it had been obtained illegally, although he added that he would have probed the list if Evangelos Venizelos, who was appointed finance minister in 2011, had asked him to.