CHICAGO, IL – In an exclusive interview with TNH, Theodore Spyropoulos, who served as SAE USA Regional Coordinator, proclaimed that the Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) is dead. He said that “it died long time ago” and revealed that it cost Greeks huge amounts of money and “no accountability was ever given.”
Even he cannot say for sure how much money was spent since SAE’s inception in 1995. The estimated expenses are between 200 and 250 million euro, but no one seems to be quite sure.
Spyropoulos believes that The Hellenic-American Council of Greeks Abroad, which was established in 1953 but withered when SAE emerged, could be revised and play a pivotal role in the broad organizational structure of Hellenes in America and abroad.
Spyropoulos told TNH that “the initial reaction of the Greek-American community for the creation of SAE was negative” and they rejected the proposal, which was later introduced by Gregory Niotis, Chairman of the Interparty Committee of the Parliament for Greeks Abroad.
Spyropoulos believes the SAE failed because of the “sketchiness of its creation” and essentially, “it was a huge mistake because SAE was established with a roof but without foundations. He said that “it was a lost opportunity in 1995, and also huge amounts of funds were spent from the taxpayers for an organization without substantial contributions either to Greece or Hellenes abroad.”
Did he ever ask for an accounting? “Of course. When I assumed the SAE USA Regional Coordinator post we had submitted written requests,” to no avail. “The Greek government still owes me $255,000,” for expenditures that Spyropoulos prepaid. He has repeatedly asked to be reimbursed “but we didn’t get any answer.” He emphasized that “we always submitted receipts checked by certified accounts because we are responsible towards the IRS, because SAE was a nonprofit organization.”
Spyropoulos said that “the monies were used between the youth and of course the conferences in Greece.” He noted that “I personally did not use even one dollar for myself, I always paid my personal expenses, and I never used SAE’S money.”
He considers “a terrible mistake” the attempts made today for SAE’s resurrection. He said that “from 2007 to 2013 five undersecretaries were changed. When they left they took the files with them and the next one had to start from the beginning again.” With regards to the current undersecretary Akis Gerontopoulos, Spyropoulos said “we don’t know what he is doing. Unfortunately there is no update.” He believes that “the political world of Greece is afraid of an organized Greek-American Community.”