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Insurance and media magnate accused in banking corruption case

Alpha TV owner Dimitri Contominas to testify on Tuesday

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Dimitri Contominas, the owner of Alpha TV and chairman of Demco Insurance, faces charges of fraud, direct complicity in malpractice and money laundering at TT Hellenic Postbank

A branch of Hellenic Postbank in 2011 (Photo: Reuters) A branch of Hellenic Postbank in 2011 (Photo: Reuters) A billionaire businessman who is among the people accused of involvement in a corruption case at a former state-owned bank, has been given an extension to provide testimony, it was announced on Thursday.

Dimitri Contominas (74), the owner of Alpha TV and chairman of Demco Insurance, is facing charges of fraud, direct complicity in malpractice and money laundering at TT Hellenic Postbank.

Contominas, who is undergoing medical treatment at an Athens clinic, has been ordered to transfer to a public hospital on the instructions of the chief prosecutor in the case and will be called to testify to Tuesday.

Anti-corruption prosecutors have pressed charges against 25 people, including businesspeople and former and present bank executives, and have already ordered the arrest of seven, in a case that centres on unsecured corporate loans which resulted in more than €400m in losses for the bank.

The investigation, which began in July 2010, focusing on the bank's activities from 2007 to 2012. According to sources, the bank approved excessive loans to certain businessmen without guarantees, of which "not even a euro" has been paid back.

The investigation also revealed that, in several cases, these loans did not go towards business activity but for "the creation of wealth", through their transfer to offshore companies or through the purchase of real estate property abroad.

Among those for whom a warrant has been issued is Angelos Filippidis, chairman at the bank from 2007 to 2009. According to his lawyer, he is currently in the USA and will return to Greece within the next ten days in order to testify.

"All the loans were issued with unanimous decisions by the board and all the procedures were respected. If I could turn back time, I would issue them again today," Filippidis told Skai Radio on Thursday.

Two former deputy managing directors of the bank, Marios Vorotsis and Charalambos Giangoudis, have also reportedly been arrested.

Warrants have also been issued for Kleon Papadopoulos, chairman of the bank from 2009 to January 2013; Kyriakos Griveas, a London-based businessman; his wife Anastasia Vatsa; and Haralampos (Haris) Siganos, appointed to the board of directors in 2011 and chief executive officer in 2013.

In a statement commenting on the case, Contominas said that there was nothing illegal with his business activities and stressed that "Demco's loans from Hellenic Postbank, unlike other huge non-operating loans of well-known entrepreneurs, are totally covered with guarantees from my personal assets".

The bank, now known as New TT Hellenic Postbank, was absorbed in July by Eurobank, one of the country's four biggest banks.

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