Alleged Fugitive Savvidis One of Five Greeks on Forbes’ Rich List

FILE - PAOK chairman Ivan Savvidis invades the pitch on March 11, 2018. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Antonis Nikolopoulos)

A year after an arrest warrant was issued against him for carrying a gun onto a soccer field to protest a referee’s decision against PAOK Thessaloniki team, Russian-Greek businessman Ivan Savvidis hit the Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people.

Savvidis, with no report Greek police are trying to find or arrest him although he’s one of the most visible people in the country and has a stake in operating the port of Piraeus among his businesses, was ranked 1511th on the list of 2,153 people, with a worth said to be some $1.5 billion.

In May, 2018, a court said Ivan Savvidis and the club’s Sports Director Lubos Michel would  stand trial for storming onto the pitch in the final minutes of the Superleague game against AEK Athens in March which was abandoned.

Savvidis, who also had a holstered gun when he ran onto the pitch, and Michel will be joined by another six defendants, including several of Savvidis’ bodyguards on charges of violating sports laws but there was no report they were as it can years for cases to come to court in Greece.

The magazine noted that the Soviet-born ethnic Greek began working at the Don State Tobacco Factory (now Donskoy Tabak) in 1980, becoming General Manager  in 1993 and his election as a Duma MP in 2003 with the pro-Putin United Russia party.

Critics have suggested he’s a straw man for Putin for Russia to gain a bigger foothold in Greece and that he helped try to undermine a deal that Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras made that renamed the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to North Macedonia, giving away the name of an ancient Greek province.

In 2004 Savvidis founded the Agrokom Group, which today operates meat packing, greenhouse and bottled mineral water units. The Savvidis group also holds the concession for the Macedonia Palace hotel on Thessaloniki’s waterfront.

The other Greeks on the list are shipowner Philip Niarchos, with a net worth of $2.8 billion at 804, followed by shipping and banking tycoon Spyros Latsis at 838 with a worth of $2.7  billion, Telis Mistakidis of Glencore International at 1116 with $2.1 billion and Vardis Vardinogiannis who owns a refining, shipping and commercial group and was at 1349 with $1.7 billion.