Employees at the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) are among the 19 people the Greek Police arrested for having formed a gang that was stealing railway equipment estimated worth of 7 million euros.
Eight OSE workers – a manager and several employees but also an employee at the Greek Public Power Corporation (PPC/DEH), were receiving bribes starting from €100 and reaching up to €40,000 in order to facilitate the other members of the gang to seize scrap and iron material.
According to amna, the gang’s activity, spread in several cities of Greece, began operations in February 15.
During a joint press conference, authorities said that of the 19 arrested after police sweeps in Athens, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupoli, Volos, Pella, Thebes and Lamia, three are Roma who acted as heads of the criminal syndicate, and eight are OSE employees. The latter include a manager of the railways organisation. Another 11 persons are named in the case, which include two more OSE employees and a Public Power Coporation employee.
The three Roma had set up three companies in Thessaloniki, Volos and Lamia that handled wholesale trade in junk metal and iron. They are also used tampered weighing scales in their transactions to claim lower revenue and pay lower taxes.
OSE employees were bribed with anything from 100 euros to 40,000 euros.
The loss to the state from stolen equipment and tax evasion is calculated to over 7 million euros.
Authorities confiscated 220 tons of railroad material that belonged to OSE and to the Hellenic Company for Maintenance of Railroad Rolling Stock (EESSTY) – all of which was returned to the railways – and 4 tractor semis, 102,440 euros, 15 gold coins, a check of 8,470 euros and various guns.
They are also looking for bank accounts in Bulgaria and Cyprus because of the distinctive marks in some of the banknotes.
The Roma groups are three and were acting as follows: They were in contact with the OSE personnel before the tenders for the decommissioning of scrap material, from rail tracks to spare parts that were in OSE warehouses.
The Roma gangs would approach the OSE employees telling them they had interest in the tender and their offer would be below the original price in order to get it cheaper. The difference would go as bride to the employees.
The gang would also approach the other tender participants and would “force” them to withdraw or not to participate effectively.
If there were 6 tons of material in the warehouse, three tons would be offered in the tender, while the OSE employees would ‘give’ the rest 3 tones directly to the gang against a bribe.
Charges include a range of crimes, from theft of public property to setting up a criminal organisation, money laundering, and bribery of employees.
According to media reports, the total number of people involved in the gang operations is 30.
The gang operation was foiled through the cooperation of Infrastructure and Transport Ministry with the Greek Police.