x

Politics

Prosecutors Target Possible NYC Taxi Loan Fraud Involving Greek-Americans

September 14, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into possible lending fraud in New York City’s troubled yellow taxi industry.

The New York Times reports the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan is investigating the lending practices that led thousands of cab drivers to take out high-risk loans that left them buried in debt.

Drivers who took out large loans to buy the medallions that allow a person to operate a yellow taxi were crushed by debt when the value of a medallion plunged from more than $1 million in 2014 to less than $200,000 today.

More than taxi 950 medallion owners have filed for bankruptcy, and the crisis has been blamed for a string of driver suicides.

The lenders in the taxi industry included several nonprofit credit unions, including Melrose Credit Union, Progressive Credit Union and Lomto Credit Union; the lending company Medallion Financial; large institutions such as Capital One, Signature Bank and New York Commercial Bank; and several large taxi fleet owners, including Neil Greenbaum, Roman Sapino, Richard Chipman and Greek-Americans Savas Konstantinides, Basil Messados and Tony Georgiton.Mr. Georgiton and the former chief executive of Melrose Credit Union, Alan Kaufman, are facing a separate federal indictment, charged with orchestrating a bribery scheme, the New York Times reported.

Mr. Georgiton and the former chief executive of Melrose Credit Union, Alan Kaufman, are facing a separate federal indictment, charged with orchestrating a bribery scheme.

The emergence of Uber and other ride-hail services has been a major cause of the medallions’ drop in value. But critics say the credit unions and other lenders that encouraged immigrant drivers with little command of English to take out risky loans are partly to blame for the crisis.

Federal prosecutors have not commented on the investigation, but two drivers told the Times they had been interviewed by federal agents as part of the probe.

“I told them everything,” said driver Mohammed Hoque, an immigrant from Bangladesh who said he drove six days a week, 12 hours a day, but still fell behind on his payments.

Taxi industry leaders including the lenders who provided the loans have denied any wrongdoing and blamed the medallion owners for taking on too much debt.

RELATED

ATHENS - A regulation in an omnibus bill will allow repatriated Greeks from Albania and the former Soviet Union to receive full national pensions, Labor and Social Protection Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said during a discussion in Greek Parliament on Tuesday.

Top Stories

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

General News

PHILADELPHIA – The Federation of Hellenic Societies of Philadelphia and Greater Delaware Valley announced that the Evzones, the Presidential Guard of Greece will be participating in the Philadelphia Greek Independence Day Parade on March 20.

Video

Mission…to Alonnisos, a TNH Documentary

O oceanic you sing and sail White on your body and yellow on your chimeneas For you're tired of the filthy waters of the harbors You who loved the distant Sporades You who lifted the tallest flags You who sail clear through the most dangerous caves Hail to you who let yourself be charmed by the sirens Hail to you for never having been afraid of the Symplegades (Andreas Empeirikos)   What traveler has not been fascinated by the Greek islands, drawn by the Sirens’ song of a traveler’s dreams? TNH and our video show ‘Mission’ marked the change of the season by transporting viewers into the heart of summer.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.