ATHENS – Artemis Sorras, who said he had 600 billion euros ($667.2 billion) in post WWI-era bonds and would pay off the debts of Greece and all Greeks – but charged members of his Greek Assembly 20 euros ($22.24) – was convicted of attempted fraud and given six years in jail.
The sentence against Sorras, 53, who is idolized by the people he scammed, was handed down by a three-justice Appellate court, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki, ending a long-running saga during which he was a fugitive before being caught early in 2018 in hiding.
Another 22 co-defendants were acquitted, either by a unanimous decision or in 2-1 decisions. He was kept in pre-trial detention the previous 18 months. He had purchased the worthless bonds, that were issued by Anatolia Bank in the 1920’s at a flea market and convinced followers they were legitimate before bilking them.
Some reports said Sorras at one time told supporters the bonds corresponded to payment by the US government for a fuel technology developed in ancient Greece, and subsequently “rediscovered” in the late 20th Century and they believed that story.
He at one time handed members pro forma statements of declaration he would take care of all their debts which many presented to tax authorities where they were told the document was worthless and they had to pay what they owed the state.
At a previous court appearance hundreds of supporters who still believed in him paraded outside to defend him although he hadn’t paid off their debt. He was also charged with running a criminal organization, money laundering, spreading false rumors and incitement.