By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens
Former Hellenic Postbank chief Angelos Filippides was released on bail Monday after being ordered to pay EUR 2 million.
The former CEO was held in custody having allegedly approved unsecured loans between 2007 and 2010 that prosecutors say resulted in losses of EUR 500 million for the Postbank.
He was also banned from leaving the country and ordered to appear regularly at his local police station.
Fillipides returned last week from Turkey, where he had been held for more than three weeks pending a Greek request for extradition.
Filippides, who denies any wrongdoing, told reporters outside the courthouse, “I’m going to fight for the obvious so that banks can do their jobs (…) if I lose, then prosecutors will be approving loans.” He later submitted a 300-page written deposition to defend himself.
According to a Bank of Greece report, the Hellenic Postbank issued loans without guarantees and with favorable terms to several indebted companies with much of the money ending up in the personal bank accounts of specific business owners. The BoG had warned the Postbank against making unnecessarily risky investments.
Regardless of the eventual outcome of the trial, fears are being raised in Greece that bankers will be overly cautious in approving loans for businesses in future, causing further liquidity issues for Greece’s ailing companies amid the ongoing public debt crisis.
Bank sources say the unprecedented bail of EUR 2 million and the fact that 30 former Postbank officials and businessmen face criminal charges, including fraud and money laundering puts strain on management of Greece’s systemic banks which are slowly regaining their credibility and hope to fully return to the hands of private investors this year.