Ex-Postbank chief appears before prosecutor

Angelos Filippidis stands accused of involvement in €400m crony loans scandal

One month after he was detained by Istanbul police on an international arrest warrant, Angelos Filippidis arrived back in Athens on Wednesday after being deported from Turkey

Angelos Filippidis (C) is escorted by policemen as he enters an Athens prosecutor's office, 5 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters) Angelos Filippidis (C) is escorted by policemen as he enters an Athens prosecutor's office, 5 February 2014 (Photo: Reuters) A former Hellenic Postbank chairman facing charges in a €400m crony loans scandal at the former state-owned bank has been given until Monday to testify, following his arrest earlier on Wednesday after being deported from Turkey.

Police took Angelos Filippidis into custody shortly after his arrival at 9.05am on a Turkish Airlines flight. After being taken to Attica police headquarters, he was led before a prosecutor, where he received an extention until Monday to deposit his testimony on charges of money laundering and fraud. 

He will remain in police custody until then. 

Anti-corruption prosecutors issued a warrant for the former Hellenic Postbank CEO last month. Filippidis, whose lawyer claimed was in the US on business, was eventually traced to an Istanbul hotel and arrested by the Turkish police acting on an international warrant.

"I did what I had said from the beginning; that I would return to Greece," Filippidis said, claiming that the Turkish authorities had released him after all procedures were completed on Tuesday midnight.

Filippidis, who denies the charges, claims earlier this week in a Turkish court that he is being persecuted because of his associations with former New Democracy prime minister Kostas Karamanlis.

When he was informed at 9am (Istanbul time) on Wednesday that a second arrest warrant was going to be issued, "I told them I would leave for my country with the first flight," he continued.

Anti-corruption prosecutors have pressed charges against 25 people, including businesspeople and former and present bank executives, 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, focuses on the bank's activities from 2007 to 2012. It is understood that the bank approved excessive loans to certain businessmen without guarantees, of which "not even a euro" has been paid back.

Following a Turkish court ruling that Filippidis be released, the Greek authorities on Monday sent another request to the Turkish extradition prosecutor, asking that he remain in jail.

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

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

€400m crony loans scandal at Hellenic Postbank detailed

Anticorruption prosecutor's report runs to 129 pages

Hellenic Postbank gave unsecured loans worth €110.5m to insurance and media magnate Dimitri Contominas, owner of Alpha TV and Demco insurance, and €100m to industrialist Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, prosecutor's report says

The full report of an antigraft prosecutor into the €400m crony loans scandal at a former state-owned bank, including the names of the suspects in the case, has been published in the media.

The 129-page document, compiled by Athens deputy anticorruption prosecutor, Popi Papandreou, details how massive loans were granted by Hellenic Postbank to leading businesspeople, without any securities. It also shows how some of this ended up in offshore companies to buy foreign properties abroad.

Prosecutors want to press charges against 25 people, for whom arrest warrents have been issued for seven.

Four people have been taken into custody: Two former deputy managing directors of the bank, Marios Vorotsis and Charalambos Giangoudis; Fotini Kresta, responsible for large business loans; and insurance and media magnate Dimitri Contominas.

The report claims that the chairman of the bank from 2007 to 2009, Angelos Filippidis, played a central role in the scandal by “abusing his position”, estimating that loans to the value of at least €347m were issued “beyond any acceptable banking criteria”.

According to the report, Contominas (74), the owner of Alpha TV and chairman of Demco Insurance, received €110.5m in unsecured loans from October 2008 to 2012.

The loans were not used for business purposes, the document claims, but to buy properties in London for Contominas’ daughter, for example.

The prosecutor also refers to a credit card company, Postcredit, which Hellenic Postbank ran in collaboration with Contominas, alleging that this ended up costing the bank in excess of €130m.

Another prominent businessman named in the report is Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, who has been in pretrial custody for over a year in relation to his involvement in alleged €700m embezzlement from Proton Bank.

Hellenic Postbank lent up to €100m to Lavrentiadis, in his position as head of Alapis pharmaceutical company, without following any risk assessment procedures.

Another beneficiary of unsecured lending at Hellenic Postbank was businessman Kyriakos Griveas and his wife Anastasia Vatsa. According to the report, in 2009 the couple applied for loans worth €27m companies they owned, including C&C International, which was involved in organising medical conferences.

The loans were granted immediately, without any securities or guarantees being offered, even though, according to the prosecutor, the couple’s combined assets at the time were just less than €3m.

Those loans resulted in losses of €17m for the bank.

Former Hellenic Postbank chairman Angelos Filippidis in 2009 (File photo: AFP/Eurokinissi) Former Hellenic Postbank chairman Angelos Filippidis in 2009 (File photo: AFP/Eurokinissi)

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