Mon, Jan 13, 2014 - Page 15 News List

Greek former banker arrested in Turkey and to be deported

AFP, ATHENS

The former chief executive of the Hellenic Postbank, mired in an unsecured loans scandal, will be deported to Greece after his arrest in Turkey, Greek authorities said on Saturday.

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

His lawyer, Thanassis Varlamis, said that the former CEO 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 told Skai Radio on Thursday. “If I could turn back time, I would issue them again today.”

He also claimed that 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.

Twenty-five people have been charged, four of whom have already been arrested in Greece, in a probe into losses by the bank of more than 400 million euros (US$549 million).

Among those charged is the head of the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund — which was responsible for maintaining the stability of the Greek banking system — Anastasia Sakellariou, who was part of a committee that handled the loans under investigation.

Anti-austerity leftist party Syriza on Saturday accused Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras of trying to cover up the scandal and said they were trying 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-capitalized lender, Hellenic Postbank took 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.

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