NEWS

Investment firm’s missing millions

The head of an established investment company in Athens has been charged with being involved in forgery and the embezzlement of 3.5 million euros after a probe into the firm’s accounts by a stock market watchdog revealed major discrepancies, authorities said yesterday. After an emergency meeting on Thursday, the Capital Market Commission (CMC) filed charges against the owners of the Domus investment company. The decision was reached, the CMC said, after it completed an investigation, in conjunction with officers from the Financial Crime Squad (SDOE), into the firm’s books for the first quarter of 2005. The probe revealed 3.5 million euros to be missing from company funds, and accounting «which did not reflect reality.» The Commission ruled that Domus had been misleading investors, and trade of its shares on the Athens Stock Exchange were immediately suspended. Police arrested the company’s chairman and managing director, Panayiotis Diamantis, shortly after the Commission filed charges with a local prosecutor – whom Diamantis faced yesterday. Domus was fined some 2.5 million euros last August by the CMC after being found to have manipulated its share price and misled investors. The government unveiled a draft law at the end of February to protect the capital market from the abuse of privileged information and from share manipulation. A key element of the bill is the requirement that brokerages inform the CMC if they suspect clients are using privileged information or manipulating the market. It also provides for criminal charges to be brought against those found guilty of profiting by over 300,000 euros from insider trading or share manipulation.