After False Statements, Greek Shipowner Restis Avoids Jail

Victor Restis. (Photo: EUROKINISSI/Τatiana Bolari - FILE)

ATHENS – Despite a shadowy past that saw him charged with embezzlement and money laundering, Greek shipowner Victor Restis’ 10-year jail sentence for making a false statement was suspended by a court.

The court found him guilty of lying to effectively steal 30 hectares (74 acres) of protected state forests that was revealed during another charge against him of trying to fix a trial as he has proved elusive despite a raft of accusations of wrongdoing and having been jailed before.

His term was suspended after judges accepted his appeal for leniency because he said he hadn’t been convicted of major crimes before although in 2013 he was the focus of a probe he got a 5.8 million euro ($6.58 million) loan from his First Business Bank, where he was Chairman.

The family bank, which had 16 branches, was shut down when he was caught getting state loans under the names of family members, then siphoning the cash off to to offshore accounts, for which he served four months of a five-year term with the bank’s debt paid by Greek taxpayers.

Then there were the allegations that that for at least five years Restis has been laundering money through a racket in Athens tied to offshore companies. The American Interest said that Restis prefers the clandestine underworld where politics, finance and power intersect, aligning himself with corrupt people from other countries to manipulate the laws and banks and influential structures to enrich themselves and get away with it.

While shunning the fellowship or connections of fellow oligarchs who control almost everything in Greece, including governments whose successive Prime Ministers have all run away from vows to make them pay taxes, Restis has forged a closed circle of the elite to gain power in Greece and other countries, much if it, the report said, with at least dubious if not criminal means.

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