ATHENS, April 21 A Greek prosecutor has filed
felony charges against the former chairman of Piraeus Bank
, Michalis Sallas, and six other executives over
property transactions involving real estate firms linked to
Sallas, court officials said.
The charges were based on an October 2016 report by a deputy
financial crimes prosecutor, which examined six real estate
transactions conducted by the bank in 2006.
The report, which has been seen by Reuters, alleges that
companies affiliated to Sallas and members of his family
acquired properties with loans taken from the bank, which were
then sold at a lower price to intermediaries, and then sold on
to Pireaus at a considerable premium in five of the six cases.
Sallas and the other bank executives face charges of
repeated breaches of faith against the bank that amount to
felony, court officials said on Wednesday. Sallas’ family
members have never been accused or charged.
In a statement on Wednesday, Sallas, who stepped down last
July after 25 years at the helm of the bank, denied the charges.
Sallas said he had not been formally notified about the
charges. He said the property transactions were "transparent"
and "legal" and the Bank of Greece, the country's central bank,
had issued a report confirming that the purchases of the
properties had not damaged Piraeus.
Referring to the charges, he said: "I see this as an effort
to target me, which I am certain will not bear fruit as there
has been no damage to the bank."
The other bank executives charged are former vice chairman
Theodoros Pantalakis; general managers Constantinos Georgiou and
Ioannis Sgourovassilakis; head of financial services
Constantinos Liapis; and employees Leia-Elissavet Baloglou and
Pantalakis declined to comment on the filing of charges when
contacted by Reuters. The other executives and employees did not
respond to Reuters’ requests for comment. A Piraeus Bank
spokesman declined to comment.
The 2016 financial crimes prosecutor’s report stated “those
implicated” in the property transactions denied they had in any
way impaired the bank. It did not identify the individuals in
The report went on to cite general managers Georgiou and
Sgourovassilakis as saying that any transactions between the
primary sellers of real estate and intermediaries were done
without the bank’s knowledge. Both executives say the bank
followed normal practice, denying the transactions in any way
impaired the bank.
Following the charges, an investigating magistrate is
expected be appointed to look further into the case and to
question the accused, in line with standard Greek practice.
Those charged would normally respond formally at this point.
The case is in keeping with allegations made by a by a
former Piraeus employee and in a 2012 Reuters report headlined
"A Greek banker's secret property deals."
Reuters reported that Piraeus had rented seven properties
that were owned by a series of private investment companies,
directed among others by Sallas's wife and two children. Their
acquisition by family members was financed by Piraeus bank
loans, Reuters reported.
Family members contacted by Reuters in 2012 declined to
comment. Representatives contacted after the filing of charges
on Wednesday did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on
In 2012, Piraeus Bank sued Reuters over its report, seeking
damages of 50 million euros. Piraeus said that the bank had
never acquired or leased property from its chairman or family.
The lawsuit was ruled inadmissible by a Greek court on
technical grounds a year later.
(Reporting by Constantinos Georgizas; Additional reporting by
Athens Newsroom; Editing by Toby Chopra)