Greek Media Magnate, Alpha Bank Officers Cleared of Fraud Charges


(Photo by EUROKINISSI/ Panagopoulos Giannis)

ATHENS – More than three years after the case was brought, the former President of Lambrakis Press Group (DOL), Stavros Psycharis, and 10 executives of Alpha Bank won't be charged with fraud over 45 million euros ($49.38 million) in loans he got.

The money was used to increase the company's share capital and to increase Psycharis' stake in the conglomerate although he was accused of getting the loans without submitting the necessary collateral and guarantees while the 10 executives had been charged with failing to comply with bank regulations.

The court ruled that the loans were issued in accordance with applicable regulations and procedures as set by the Bank of Greece, said Kathimerini. The media group came under the control of shipowner Evangelos Marinakis in 2017.

In 2016, a prosecutor said Psycharis, whose press group owns Ta Nea newspaper, would be prosecuted on charges of tax evasion and money laundering.

An audit of his income since the year 2000, conducted by the state-run agency that monitors wealthy taxpayers (KEFOMEP), allegedly found a “hole” of 45 million euros ($49.38 million) the newspaper Kathimerini said – the exact amount of the loan.

In August 2016, his trial on charges of submitting inaccurate source of income declarations was postponed after the court deemed it was unclear whether the inaccuracies were accidental or the result of deceit at at another time he said he was not well enough to testify.

It’s rare in Greece for any major figures to face prosecution for crimes including tax evasion. Businessman Lavrentis Lavrentiadis was released from pre-trial detention in 2014 as prosecutors said he had embezzled 511 million euros ($562.86 million) from Proton Bank, which the government had to rescue and he he still hasn't come to trial, five years later.

Greece is awash in bank scandals with loans given to business executives who didn't pay them back, toppling state-backed institutions.