CYPRUS AND GREECE – 15 March, 2018 – Blueprint for Free Speech Staff. Greece’s anti-money laundering authority has reportedly recommended that the former Chairman of Piraeus Bank, one of the country’s big four, face charges over the sale of five properties it said could be tied to his family.
The agency said Michalis Sallas is culpable for the 2016 sale of the properties to a Cypriot firm even though he wasn’t at the bank at the time, which he noted in denying any wrongdoing.
“There are strong indications that Mr. Sallas and other members of Piraeus management who participated in the deals are guilty of malfeasance,” the agency said, adding that the deals cost the bank, already awash in bad loans, some 6.4 million euros ($7.91 million), according to a report by financial news agency Bloomberg.
The properties, which had been sold in 2003 to companies “linked to Sallas or members of his family” and then repurchased in 2006 by Piraeus, were offloaded to the Cypriot company in 2016 using loans from the bank, Bloomberg cited the report as saying.
The transactions, which involved funds going through a series of intermediate companies, showed the lender was “breaching prudent banking methods,” resulting in a financial hit for the bank, the regulator was quoted as saying.
The body’s report on Piraeus Bank, dated November 2, is the third study into the bank’s property transactions which the agency has followed and included an audit by the Bank of Greece which in September, 2017 said it was looking into suspected wrongdoing at the bank over writing down bad loans and breaches of capital controls that have been in place since he summer of 2015.