Greece’s Rich Plundered Banks

Euro nach rasanter Talfahrt auf VierjahrestiefThe head a Greek unit investigating money-laundering told Parliament that connected Greek businessmen have been using five banks in elaborate scheme to essentially steal a billion euros of depositors’ money while being protected by politicians he didn’t name.

Panayiotis Nikoloudis, who is a Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor, presented the findings to Parliament in which he claimed that five state pillaged their deposits and funneled money to members of their boards, major shareholders, cronies and big business players through dodgy loans and transfers to tax havens and offshore bank accounts.

He indicated that Proton Bank, First Business Bank, Hellenic Postbank, Halkida Bank and Bank of the Peloponnese were essentially being used as private conduits to steal through bad loans to the connected without having to determine where the money went, and other methods.

The former head of the Hellenic Postbank, which had to be rescued, and a number of other officials there have been arrested and charged with taking 500 million euros ($693.8 million) through bad loans.

Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, the major shareholder in Proton, which failed because there were so many bad loans and had to be nationalized by the government, has been jailed pending his trial on charges of stealing as much as 700 million euros ($928.7 million).

The banks are used by Greek workers, pensioners and middle-class customers who have found it difficult to obtain loans themselves even though the money is their own deposits.

Greece is also funneling 50 billion euros ($69.38 billion) in international bailouts to recapitalize banks, and is set to add as much as 6.4 billion euros ($8.88 billion) more.

Nikoloudis showed evidence pointing to interbank activity, legal cover-ups, expertise in such schemes, and, of course, a steady cycle of interconnected interests that were protected by friendly media outlets and complicit politicians, Kathimerini reported.

He presented his own view of how the hierarchy of massive-scale corruption works: of 207 cases being investigated by his department, corrupt politicians do not appear to play a leading role, which is reserved for a very specific section of the economic elite with powerful media connections. The job of the politicians is to provide cover when it’s needed, he said.

It’s expected the list will likely grow even longer, revealing more suspects, people with money, social standing and influence, people who have plundered the country and prospered while most of their countrymen have suffered crushing austerity measures that have created record unemployment, poverty, suicide and other problems.

The government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has conducted a crackdown that led to the arrests of a number of former officials at Hellenic Postbank as he said his administration would not tolerate corruption and wrongdoing.


  • Polycrates

    It will be interesting to match Nikoloudis’ List against the Lagarde List. I suppose this would be too contradictory to the wishes of Samaras and Venizelos.

  • Tonto

    It should be mandated by the state that when any of these investigations implicate the political infrastructure, which, according to these preliminary investigations protected and profited from these bank officials, an additional charge of treason against the Greek nation should also be leveled against them. In former times and in other countries people have had to pay heavily with their lives, or what was left of it, for the weakening of their country or bringing it into harms way.

  • Tonto

    Nevertheless, the Greek people who have been robbed by those on both lists deserve no less.

    INVESTIGATE, PROSECUTE, CONVICT–and in all cases, make the length of sentences contingent upon getting the money back!

    In cases involving 1 million stolen or more: No money back = life in prison.

  • Polycrates

    To prove theft is one thing to determine how much can be difficult and will tie up the courts with years of litigation. Keep it simple minimum 25 year sentences at Korydallos Prison, Hotel and Spa. If they decide to return absconded funds on their own the sentences may be reduced after a hearing. They have ample time to think possibly the rest of their life is behind jail bars if they do not act.

  • Tonto

    At least we are seeing “life sentences” handed down now in the courts for egregious cases of governmental fraud.

    I am optimistic things are inching toward a more transparent and fair world of crime and punishment in this land. The excellent recommendations by the Troika regarding future political fund controls is a nice start. Anyone who can not see that as a fundamental necessity (like or not the the Troika) needs to have their head examined.

  • Polycrates

    They need to name names that lead to convictions in exchange for lenient sentences.

  • Tonto

    And special prizes for the biggest fish!

  • Polycrates

    To catch the really big slippery fish we need something like the American RICO Law against racketeering and corruption.

  • everygoodboydeservesfavour

    We are still waiting for compliance with 150+ reccs. agreed to in 2010, which didn’t affect the Pollies. You expect them to implement controls on themselves! Well, good luck with that one! (not that I don’t disagree with you!) But you must agree this is a very, let’s say, different country.

  • Tonto

    PC: Or just offer great monetary incentives to people for coming forward with significant evidence to convict those fish. No reward could be too large for the benefits of really putting away some of the biggest con men in government. Especially when you consider the damage they ca do (have done) in their long careers. Can you name a few?

  • Tonto

    First you vote them out–try in the courts , convict and punish them. Then stipulate to anyone new they must abide by reforms the day they take office. If they don’t–Impeach them. What ever happened to the notion that public servants (politicians) work for the public? They technically are his boss, right? How did things ever get so backasswards?

  • everygoodboydeservesfavour

    What you say is logical for any ‘normal’ country. As I say, this place is, different. I could use a whole plethora of additional words, none of which are very complimentary. I fear we have still yet to reach critical mass.

  • Tonto

    EG: I hear your pain. I live here, work here, pay enormous taxes and must endure the difficulties just like you and any citizen. The fact that I am not ethnic Greek perhaps detracts from my position on many issues–but not the hope I also have in seeing real reforms so badly needed here. I have great empathy for your tolerance and eternal hope things will change. That is exactly why am so passionate about trying to affect those changes sometime angrily bring people’s attention to the absurdity of how and why thi8ngs need to remain so intractible. Certain detractors on this site see me as hating the citizens of this country in some racist way–which having a Greek wife and half-Greek children could not be further from the truth.

    If there is to be a “critical mass” lets see it come and go–as I believe in every crises there is endless potential for change.

  • Polycrates

    Oh, can I name names as many Greeks can and some although too few have. But this cannot be simply a trial by J’accuse finger pointing devolving into a media circus where justice is of secondary importance to the severity of the supposed charges. There must be order, evidence and a swift fair trial. This is why I am critical of jailing GD’s MPs as I would others that languish in prison for purpose of political expediency. It is disgraceful and encourages retribution…pay back with interest that never ends.
    I like your idea of a reward for convictions and incentives towards recovering stolen assets. The key is to obtain evidence and the willingness to prosecute no matter who it is and the consequences that will ensure.