4.7-mln money laundering ring

A Piraeus coffee-shop owner and another man have been arrested on suspicion of having laundered over 4.7 million euros in Athens foreign exchange shops on behalf of a large cigarette-smuggling ring, police said yesterday. Ioannis Montesatos, 37, was arrested on Friday when police raided his coffee shop. Earlier, officers in Athens had arrested Dimitris Karyiotis, 44, in possession of 100,000 pounds sterling (159,000 euros), which he allegedly intended to convert into euros at a currency exchange office using a stolen passport. Police believe the suspects – along with Zissis Poppos, who has not been arrested for legal reasons but is to be charged with money laundering along with the other two – had converted some 3 million pounds (4.76 million euros) into euros since March 14. The money is understood to have come from the proceeds of cigarette smuggling, a lucrative occupation in a country that tops the EU in smoking. Montesatos will also be charged with drug possession, forgery and illegal gambling, as a search of his shop revealed 35 grams of marijuana, a forged passport and driver’s license, and illegal betting forms.

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