NEWS

Police trail new trial-fixing ring

A criminal racket believed to have gained millions of euros in profits by illegally obtaining the rights to dozens of plots of land and buildings facing auction was allegedly being run by a 55-year-old civil engineer with the help of 10 key ring members, including four lawyers, a former judge and a former cleric, Kathimerini understands. According to sources, the former cleric is the same one who had been embroiled in a trial-fixing scandal that broke in 2004. He is believed to have played a key role in the real estate racket, securing favorable verdicts for people facing trial in exchange for donations to the ring. It is believed that he had been the mediator behind a recent «donation» of 600,000 euros. The same sources revealed that when the ring members were unable to guarantee a trial verdict, they would make a hoax call to the courthouse, warning of a bomb in order to evacuate the premises and cause the postponement of the trial. The ring’s legal adviser is believed to be a woman currently serving jail time for fraud. It is she who is thought to have located most of the real estate before informing her accomplices on the outside. One of the lawyers linked to the scam is a well-known figure who until recently appeared regularly on late-night television debates. An investigation by the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) has traced dozens of bank accounts – in Switzerland, the USA, England, Germany and Madagascar – that have been linked to the ring. Police, who believe the racket to be the biggest and most smoothly organized ever to have operated in Greece, also suspect the involvement of at least three figures from the Athens underworld.