Greek Tourism Officials Charged With Fraud

Nikos Karahalios

With Greece struggling to lure more tourists from the country’s biggest revenue raiser, five people, including a former executive at Greece’s National Tourism Organization (GNTO), have been arrested after they allegedly attempted to extract cash from the agency using fake invoices.

Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefaloyianni has ordered a lawsuit to be filed as well as a high-level administrative inquiry into possible fraud against the organization, the Athens newspaper Kathimerini reported.

Police have over the past few days arrested a 44-year-old businessman, two 29-year-old business partners, and a 44-year-old freelancer working with the vendor’s company. Costas Vasilakos, former special adviser to former GNTO General Secretary Nikos Karahalios, was arrested.

Vasilakos is accused of issuing a check of 147,600 euros ($194,446) from GNTO for the payment of services that were never provided. The services purportedly involved a hotel on the Aegean island of Syros. Karahalios, who appeared at police headquarters in Athens, denied any involvement with the case. Karahalios claimed that his name had been raised to damage his political credibility. He gave no further details.

All suspects face felony charges of embezzlement, fraud, forgery and setting up a criminal organization. They are scheduled to face a prosecutor on Dec. 28. Current GNTO General Secretary Panos Livadas yesterday praised his agency for exposing the scam.

“We shall proceed with all the legal actions, and will continue to provide all the necessary help to the responsible authorities in order to reveal the truth and punish the perpetrators,” he said.


  1. Our tourist industry is a joke.  Rather than focusing our economy on innovation and producing things of substance, we lazily depend on the sun and ancient artifacts. What kind of lesson are we teaching our children by putting physics, mathematics, and biology research on moral and intellectual par with scrubbing toilets and selling trinkets to tourists?

    Greeks in the tourist industry are not worthy of the name Greek. Ancient Greeks were thinkers not pseudo-Greek posers that are “proud” of being Greek.. .then behave absolutely nothing like a Hellene.

  2. Do tell your children to specialize as bartenders? Do you encourage them to become professional burger flippers at McDonalds? Or do you encourage them to get an education to produce something of greater value?

    Myself… I think it highly irrational for a parent to encourage their children to be the lowest rug of the labour force. For some reason though some believe it is right to preach that to entire countries.

    I’m not completely against tourism per se but any economy based on it is foolish.

  3. Tourism in Greece is shambolic and it needs transformation all together…We have everything anyone can think off and we cannot work it out all year round…Revenue from tourism alone can reach 17 billion Euro per annum…Lacking the professionals have lead this industry to the ground…Most government funds are pocketed by officials instead of being directed to the right channels…Unfortunately, nothing will change unless corruption ends…The country will never prosper while these corrupt politicians are still in power…

  4. Hellenic tourism could explode in success IF thinkers, believers and those who love and care were placed in charge.


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