NEWS

Abducted tycoon set for release

Kidnappers were close to releasing shipping magnate Pericles Panagopoulos, abducted on Monday, after agreeing a ransom with his family, sources said yesterday. The police did not comment publicly on the rumors about the 74-year-old’s release and it is thought that Panagopoulos’s family has been handling the negotiations privately. Sources said that the kidnappers contacted a member of the tycoon’s family, probably his son, twice – once on Monday after they abducted him as he left his home in southern Athens and a second time on Tuesday night. The Panagopoulos family has not commented publicly on the situation but financial advisers have been seen visiting the magnate’s home, indicating that efforts are being made to collect the ransom that the kidnappers are demanding. It is not known what demands the abductors are making, although it has been reported that they told Panagopoulos’s driver that they wanted 40 million euros. Sources suggested that the gang is likely to have spoken to Panagopoulos, who is the founder of the country’s largest ferry company Attica Holdings, which owns Superfast Ferries, about what kind of ransom he could realistically pay. Police suggested that the family is likely to have been given some kind of proof, possibly a recording of his voice, that the 74-year-old has not been harmed. There are concerns about Panagopoulos’s health as he suffers from a serious problem that requires specific medication. The tycoon did not have any of his tablets with him and police are checking with pharmacies in Attica and beyond to see if anyone has bought specific drugs without a prescription. Officers are also scrutinizing cell phone records to check for calls made in the area around Panagopoulos’s home before or after his kidnapping. Sources said police believe that the gang behind the abduction is not new to murder, blackmail and other criminal behavior.