Scam selling real estate to Chinese under microscope


Greece’s Supreme Court prosecutor Xeni Dimitriou on Wednesday ordered an investigation into alleged illicit payments by Chinese nationals for the acquisition of Greek properties involving a Greek entrepreneur.

The case came to light on Wednesday, prompting the resignation of Greek retailer Jumbo’s deputy vice chairman Evangelos Papaevangelou while the listed company claimed to have no knowledge of the activities.

The case is also said to have drawn the attention of the European, Greek and Chinese central banks as the scam sought to circumvent Chinese capital controls.

According to the claims, Papaevangelou used Greek bank card terminals in China to receive payments that were destined for the acquisition of real estate in Greece by Chinese nationals keen to secure a residence permit as part of Greece’s Golden Visa scheme (the scheme demands that payments be made only by bank transfer).

According to sources, these payments totaled at least 100 million euros since 2017 and are said to have been forwarded to the property company Destiny, in which Papaevangelou is a shareholder.

Although three banks are said to be implicated in the affair, the probe is focusing in particular on National Bank of Greece as its terminals are alleged to have been used the most and for the largest payments, despite a warning issued by Chinese authorities.

NBG is being checked in connection with 40 million euros in payments made via eight terminals, Eurobank for 30 million euros made via two terminals and Piraeus Bank for 20 million euros in payments.

NBG officials implicated in the affair were said Wednesday to be on the verge of resignation.