Zoniana money laundering rife

The list of Zoniana residents with suspiciously large bank balances has grown to 28 and is expected to reach 40, police investigating money laundering in and around the Cretan mountain village said yesterday. Officers from the Economy Ministry’s special monitoring unit said they had traced numerous «unusual transactions,» many of which have allegedly been carried out using offshore accounts. Money is being laundered through the purchase of expensive properties and luxury cars, according to officers who said they have already located assets. Police are also probing a suspected link to international drug-trafficking rings. Yesterday officers continued an investigation into one particular «family» believed to control illegal activities in Zoniana, searching 16 apartments thought to belong to members of the family on the outskirts of Iraklion. Police are planning similar raids on apartments in Athens. In a bid to stamp out corruption in the police force and public services that is believed to have allowed lawlessness to thrive in Zoniana, Greece’s general inspector of public administration, Leandros Rakintzis, appealed to the government to prohibit judges and certain civil servants from working in their towns of origin. «The measure could be combined with certain benefits or incentives for those being transferred… to ensure that the state machinery operates reliably,» Rakintzis said. Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos, in an interview published in Sunday’s Kathimerini, envisaged such a prohibition but only for police officers. A 28-year-old policeman, shot in the neck when gunmen fired on an advancing police convoy outside Zoniana earlier this month, must undergo another operation, doctors said yesterday, adding that he remained in a critical condition.