SDOE to probe Proton Bank loan to Thessaloniki businessman

A prosecutor in charge of investigating corruption claims in Thessaloniki, Argyris Dimopoulos, has ordered a preliminary probe a large loan issued by Proton Bank before the lender was split into parts and liquidated, the Athens-Macedonia News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The investigation was launched on the basis of a complaint singed by a committee of shareholders and bondholders and concerns a loan of 13 million euros granted to a Thessaloniki businessman who was also a member of the bank’s board.

According to sources, the unnamed businessman allegedly received the loan without going through the proper channels just a few months before Proton was liquidated. He is said to have offered bonds worth less than 100,000 euros as collateral.

The investigation has been put in the hands of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE), which will be looking into whether the loan constitutes fraud against the lender and whether there is a case of money laundering to be made. SDOE will also investigate any large loans made in the same period from the bank to other businesses in the northern port city.

Proton Bank is also the subject of a separate case as its former chairman, Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, and another 42 defendants are to stand trial in March next year over questionable loans amounting to some 700 million euros which were allegedly granted by the defunct lender to Lavrentiadis’s group of companies.

The suspects are facing charges of running a criminal organization, money laundering, fraud and breach of faith in connection with alleged embezzlement at the bank.

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