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Penal Code amendments protect bankers, suspects of money-laundering

The latest Penal Code amendments grant bank executives immunity for bad loans and returns to suspects of money-laundering their frozen assets. Bank executives accused of breach of trust are protected from the independent intervention by a prosecutor, and people suspected of criminal fraud and money-laundering will see their frozen assets return to their accounts. These two amendments in the Penal Code approved by the Greek Parliament on Wednesday night triggered a controversy among political parties and even reached media beyond the country.

According to these two amended Penal Code articles:

Bank officials who are accused of breach of fate, especially when approving loans, may be prosecuted only after the accuser first files an injunction. In all other cases, the process can be initiated independently by a prosecutor.

People suspected of criminal fraud and money-laundering will recover assets frozen by the court, if they are not brought to trial within 18 months. And this in a country where preliminary investigation for financial crimes takes several years before the full court hearing.

Justice Minister Costas Tsiaras said that “We need to harmonize with European legislation. The time of detention before being charged is 18 months. So we had to harmonize the times and be consistent with the citizens.”

According to financial times the return of frozen assets amendment “is at odds with international anti-money laundering practices. According to the Financial Action Task Force, the global anti-money laundering watchdog, and Greco, the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body, cash and properties seized during a criminal probe should remain frozen until all judicial procedures are completed.”

SYRIZA leader and former PM, Alexis Tsipras, said that the amendment grants immunity to bank executives of recapitalized banks.

A statement issued by SYRIZA, said, among others, that Prime Minister Kyriakos “Mitsotakis is hiding but the Financial Times reveals his presents to bankers and to those awaiting trial for money laundering.”

The Prime Minister “returns over 1 billion euros in frozen assets and does not take position for the loans without collateral to mainstream media companies, New Democracy and PASOK,” the statement said.

Tsipras had submitted a relevant question about these two amended articles, which the PM was supposed to answer at the “Prime Minister’s Hour” in the Greek Palriament.

However, Mitsotakis is out of Athens for a Balkan Summit in Thessaloniki.

PS Bad timing… and we will never find out why the Prime Minister supported these two amendments.

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