Minister of State for Combating Corruption Panayiotis Nikoloudis on Wednesday described the illegal loans provided by the now-defunct Agricultural Bank of Greece (or ATEbank) between 2000 and 2012, which he is responsible for investigating, as the “biggest scandal since the modern Greek state was founded.”
“We are talking about 5 billion euros at least… which dwarfs the infamous [Giorgos] Koskotas scandal involving the Bank of Crete [in the late 1980s], which ran to the equivalent of 60 million euros.”
The results of a preliminary investigation, which were made public in July, indicated that ATEbank was used to siphon some 5 billion euros to supporters of previous governments as part of a patron-client relationship.
Prosecutors are investigating more than 1,300 loans that were issued without the necessary guarantees being demanded by the bank. ATEbank was absorbed by Piraeus Bank in 2013.
Nikoloudis said that the loans were not given randomly, but to specific people, including “media owners, select businessmen and agricultural cooperatives.”