Ex-boss of loans scandal bank to be deported back to Greece

Former chief executive arrested in Turkey is due to be sent back to Greece to face fraud charges

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 11:29pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 January, 2014, 5:20pm


The former boss of the Hellenic Postbank, which is mired in an unsecured loans scandal, will be deported to Greece after his arrest in Turkey, the Greek authorities said.

Angelos Filippidis, the subject of an international warrant, was arrested on Friday in his hotel in Istanbul after Turkish authorities tracked his mobile signal, Greek media reported.

His lawyer, Thanassis Varlamis, said that the former chief executive had appeared before a Turkish magistrate on Saturday and asked to return to his country to face questioning.

The deportation was approved and could take between two and 40 days, according to the Greek consulate.

Filippidis has previously denied any wrongdoing.

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

He also claimed the Hellenic Postbank's bad loan ratio was far lower than that of other bigger Greek banks. An unsecured loan is particularly advantageous to the borrower since no guarantee or collateral is required. A total of 25 have been charged, four of whom have already been arrested in Greece, in a probe into losses by the bank of over €400 million (HK$4.2 billion). Among those charged is Anastasia Sakellariou, the head of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, which is responsible for maintaining the stability of the Greek banking system.

She was part of a committee that handled the loans under investigation.

The anti-austerity leftist party Syriza accused Greece's Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras on Saturday of trying to cover up the scandal to protect Sakellariou.

Greek authorities have begun getting tough on corruption, bringing to light the extent of fraud before the economy collapsed in 2010.

A minor but well-capitalised lender, Hellenic Postbank suffered a serious blow in 2012 from a restructuring of Greek sovereign debt.

Its shares were suspended last summer after a run by shareholders following statements from the finance minister that the bank had become "unsustainable".

It was eventually absorbed by Eurobank, one of Greece's four biggest banks.

The Greek banking sector was radically restructured last year under the terms of the country's bailout deal with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Greece's financial crisis has triggered public anger against a political and business elite widely viewed as privileged and corrupt, prompting prosecutors to step up corruption investigations.

Additional reporting by Reuters