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In a public prosecution, the Bank of Greece (BT) is the subject of serious complaints from employees notified to the Prosecutor of Areopagus Xenis Demetriou and the head of the Independent Public Revenue Authority (PPA), Giorgos Pitsilis.
The complaints, which were published by Documento on 21 January 2018, concerned an attempt to cover up more than EUR 1 million in tax evasion at the IETA, that is, the Mint, and the abuse of hundreds of thousands of euros in the bank’s canteens. It is probably the first time that the Bank is under public prosecution, but according to Documento, it is expanding its entire tax base.
It was early January when Documento’s office reached a folder without a sender’s name. It contained several documents, such as letters previously sent to the Governor of the Bank of Greece, Giannis Stournaras, the Deputy Governor and executives of the Bank of Greece, as well as a letter of complaint. The letter was dated December 13, 2017 and received by the Prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Xeni Dimitriou, with a letter to AAD leader Giorgos Pitsilis. The authors of the letter were «a group of low-ranking bank executives,» who filed a tax evasion of more than EUR 1 million allegedly made by the IETA. In particular, according to the complaint, the tax evasion concerned the non-reimbursement of VAT to the Finance Ministry which had been received by the sale of various products produced by the IETA. The existence of a question concerning IETA had confirmed in its reply to Documento and the BT. As it was mentioned, «during the regular audit carried out in the first half of 2017, the Internal Audit Division of the Board of Directors of IETA had identified problems in its accounting system as of 2009. In June 2017 the Management informed the Management and a few days then the Management of the Bank of Greece gave a mandate to carry out a specific research that was under way. The authors of the letter voiced reservations about the effectiveness of the investigation and denounced the Director of Internal Audit that he was trying to disguise the event. They even wanted to be audited by independent auditors and not by the BoG.
Abuse in canteens and executive privileges
The same letter also spoke of abuse allegedly made in the past in the bank’s canteen, which amounted to 700,000 euros. According to the allegations, in 2014 an investigation was ordered to investigate the loss of money from the two canteens. The auditors appear to have compiled a finding that was handed over to the administration. However, according to complaints, instead of attributing responsibilities from the Board of Directors, the administration proceeded to expel employees. It should be noted that the Board of Trustees in its reply to Documento referred to an abuse of EUR 20,000 and said that the appropriate penalties had been imposed.
The same complaint also referred to executives and directors of the bank who claim to enjoy privileges in relation to other executives and employees of the Bank. For example, there was an «exceptional credit card not provided for senior bank staff», «traveling abroad with different air tickets», «luxury hotel rooms and expenses», etc.
According to Documento, the prosecution is focused on complaints about tax evasion at IETA and the findings of the Bank’s Internal Audit have already been received. But control will not be enough for IETA but will include all the tax assets of the Bank. The Alpha Bank has already been requested to provide all the relevant data, which had to be delivered to the RACs carrying out the audit until 1 April. However, this did not happen and the Bank was extended until early May.
The new letter to Documento
Shortly after Documento’s publication, another letter, which was allegedly drawn up by the same group of workers, arrived at the office of the newspaper. The letter, published today by Documento, effectively degrades the Bank’s replies. In particular, he notes that the difference in VAT «was not found by regular inspectors», but by a «private company supporting the IETA’s IT system in the audit that it made based on accounting data in the SAP accounting system, at the request of the Director of the IETA «. Indeed, according to the complainants, the latter did not expect such a finding.