PM defends changes in asset-freezing legislation, says law will apply to everyone


Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis defended a recent amendment in the penal code that could allow assets frozen by the Anti-Money Laundering Authority to be released after 18 months, saying it was introduced to protect the rights of individuals.

“The president of the authority had the power to seize [assets], without anyone being convicted, which resulted in businessmen and citizens being held hostages or being [financially] destroyed, even if they were later acquitted,” Mitsotakis told Parliament at the prime minister’s question time.

He was responding to a question posed by main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, who cited a report in the Financial Times which said the amendment is at odds with international standards in combatting money laundering.

Mitsotakis explained that to avoid the risk of inadvertently releasing assets in serious cases of money-laundering and corruption, authorities will have a three-month deadline to send the case file to the judicial council, which in turn will have these 18 months to decide whether to press charges, or return the assets to the individual concerned.

“The law in this country will apply to everyone, whether they are powerful or weak," he said and described the FT report as “erroneous.”