The former manager of the Church of Greece non-governmental charity “Allileggii” (Solidarity) and three alleged accomplices were indicted on Tuesday to stand trial on serious charges ranging from embezzlement of public funds to breach of trust. The charges relate to the management of money given to the NGO in 2005-2006 for actions and activities not carried out.
The four will be tried before a Three-member Criminal Appeals Court. They include the NGO’s manager Dimitris Fourlemadis, an associate of the late Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, as well as former Court of Audit commissioner Georgia Lymberi and two former church finance inspectors, Ioannis Petsos and Theologos Makris.
The case concerns the amount of 5.6 million euros given by the foreign ministry to supply food aid to Iraq. The sum was an advance on a total sum of 7 million euros that the charity was to use in order to send 2.65 tonnes of frozen poultry to Iraq over a period of six months, from September 2006 until March 2007.
According to the charges, the charity only bought 371,093 kilos of frozen poultry in total, which was stored at a warehouse in Rendi until declared unfit for consumption by the veterinary service. The foreign ministry then terminated the contract and demanded the return of the 5.6 million euros but the NGO returned only 500,000 euros. The remainder, according to the charges, was illegally appropriated by Fourlemadis, who had complete financial control over the charity. There are also charges connected to smaller amounts given for projects that were not fully completed, such as the construction of a museum in the Alexandria Patriarchate, a school in Indonesia and a shelter for battered women in Romania.
Lymberi is accused of using her position in the Court of Audit to assist Fourlemadis in embezzling the funds, while the other two defendants falsely claimed that the sums were still in the NGO’s accounts when they had disappeared.
The charges are also compounded by the heavier penalties imposed by law for embezzlement of public funds.