“With all respect, I repeat I have nothing to do with the case. I am sure some will die with regrets,” ex mayor Vassilis Papageorgopoulos told the Thessaloniki criminal court upon hearing the judge announcing his life sentence in prison. “However, it will not be us,” the presiding judge replied. For the first time in Greece’s realities and proceedings, a local ruler gets such a punishment.
Vassilis Papageorgopoulos, 65, who served as mayor of Thessaloniki from 1999 to 2010, was found guilty of embezzling 17,9 million euro from municipality coffers. Precisely, the court found Papageorgopoulos guilty of the crime of direct complicity to repeated embezzling through omission.
According too state broadcaster NET, the court found that Papageorgopoulos knew from the very beginning of the embezzlement aiming to fund a local political faction.
Papageorgopoulos and 17 other officials stood trial for allegedly embezzling a total of almost 52 million euros from the municipality’s coffers. The court said that there was proof of 17.962 million euros having been misappropriated by the former mayor and his cohorts.
“The Thessaloniki court on Wednesday also handed lesser guilty verdicts to the municipality’s former general secretary, Michalis Lemousias, ex-cashier Panayiotis Saxonis and two more former directors of the municipality’s financial services.
The other parties standing trial, including three former deputy mayors in charge of finances, were acquitted of all charges.
Papageorgopoulos served two terms as Thessaloniki mayor before being replaced by Yiannis Boutaris in local elections in November 2010.
Boutaris accused Papageorgopoulos of providing inaccurate financial figures when he took over at City Hall.” (ekathimerini)
In April 2011, Vassilis Papageorgopoulos was among 25 people contacted by an investigating magistrate with a probe into alleged embezzlement of 51.4 million euros at the municipality. When successor Yiannis Boutaris took over the City Hall accused Papageorgopoulos of providing inaccurate financial figures.
Nea Dimocratia, the party of prime minister Antonis Samaras, expelled Vassilis Papageorgopoulos form the party hours after the court verdict.
Mayor Yiannis Boutaris said that Thessaloniki municipality needs to claim the embezzled money.
I am not sure, but authorities must have seized the embezzled money or at least frozen the bank accounts of the convicted. Of course, illegal money knows many ways how to be hidden and go .. lost.