NEW YORK – Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York former president Petros Galatoulas held a press conference at the Four Points Sheraton in Long Island City on September 21, to answer one by one the accusations leveled against him by the executives of the Federation, with the footnote that he will take legal action to clear his name.
Assisted by the longtime treasurer of the Board of Directors, Athanasios Aronis, Galatoulas refuted the allegations regarding the management of donations from the grand marshals of the 2017 and 2018 parades, Ivan Savvidis and Pantelis Boumbouras, as well as expenditures from the Federation's fund, mainly the financial support of 9,500 euros at the Pan-Macedonian rally held in Greece in the winter of 2018, for which he noted that they were covered by the approved budget of $14,000 for "national issues."
For his part, Aronis, who exercised his duties as treasurer during the infamous period of the 2019 parade, for which the critics of Petros Galatoulas - who was also the chairman of the competent Committee – constantly repeat that they do not have a detailed account, blamed the outgoing president, Cleanthis Meimaroglou, while he complained that the planned audit was not carried out in time by the Audit Committee, which could have solved the issue from the beginning.
In addition, Galatoulas turned his arrows against Dimitrios Kalamaras, Dimos Siokis, Vasilios Stathakos, and Nikos Diamantidis, noting that, since he will not participate in the next Board of Directors, he will move to take legal action to ensure “his honor and dignity.”
According to Aronis, Ivan Savvidis donated $70,000 to the Federation. The former treasurer of the Federation presented documents showing that $50,000 of that donation was deposited in the Federation bank accounts in five different deposits.
The remaining $20,000 was spent on expenses related to the participation of the Evzones in the parade, as well as individual expenses for the Parade Gala at the Hilton, mostly for the musicians and the tips.
“The outcome of Mr. Savvidis' donation has already been recorded and audited by an Audit Committee,” Aronis noted.
The financial donation made by Pantelis Boumbouras, however, seems to have had a more complicated route and that is probably the reason why questions are still being asked about its outcome. Both Aronis and Galatoulas said that Boumbouras’ initial announcement was a donation of $40,000, but eventually reached $50,000, albeit belatedly.
In particular, as it appears from the relevant data, the payment was made in different periods: During his presence, in 2018, Boumbouras allegedly handed over an amount that reached $20,000 dollars, i.e. half of his initial pledge. This $20,000 was used again for expenses related to the Evzones but also individual expenses at the Hilton, similar to those mentioned above for 2017. According to Aronis, Galatoulas received in the second year, from an intermediary, an additional 3,000 euros from Boumbouras, while Aronis received another 12,700 in cash. The two former executives of the Federation noted that the total of $23,000 was handed over as cash to Meimaroglou after his election in 2018.
“When Petros Galatoulas went to Greece in September 2018, he found Mr. Boumbouras and received the amount of $12,700 and handed it over to me. It was Friday 6 PM and the banks would open on Monday. Because I did not want to leave the money in the secretary’s office, where a lot of people come and go, I told Mr. Meimaroglou that it is better to keep it in his office, until we deposit it in the bank. I had two choices at the time: Either take the money home or give it to the president. He was only three months in the presidency, should I not trust him from so early on? After a few days, he told me that it might be better to keep them out of the bank because they would be needed for parade expenses. I was surprised, since he could make a withdrawal whenever it was needed,” said Aronis.
In total, based on the relevant data, the $23,000 cash managed by Meimaroglou consisted of the $12,700 + $3,000 from Boumbouras’ donations, while the rest is cash returned from the cash facility at the Lyceum of Greek Women.
At the same time, it was confirmed that Galatoulas finally received from Boumbouras an additional $14,300 before the 2019 parade – more than the total amount that was originally agreed upon – which was given that year for the Evzones' expenses and other parade expenses presented in detail.
"They are throwing mud at me, but I have asked them to give me evidence and they have not. I may not have millions, but I am richer than millionaires, because of the family I have. Whoever insults my honor and dignity also insults my family. With the Greek-American community issues, I had more bitterness than joy, but I am proud of what I have achieved. I never believed, after so many years of work that I have put in, that some people would try to tarnish my reputation with lies, slander, and bottomless hatred,” concluded Galatoulas.