George Koskotas

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George Koskotas (Greek: Γιώργος Κοσκωτάς; born 1953, Athens) is a former banker and publisher who spearheaded a financial scandal that brought down the PASOK government in 1989.

Early life[edit]

Koskotas was born in Greece on October 5, 1954.[1] He emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1970 and worked for his father's house painting business in Queens, New York until 1979 when he returned to Greece. In 1980, Koskotas was indicted on charges of defrauding the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State unemployment office of $41,000 in a scheme to falsify unemployment insurance claims and obtain tax refunds from fictitious workers of his company. He was arrested on the charges in 1987 while he was attending a newspaper editors' convention in Washington D.C. He posted $1 million in bail and returned to Greece.[2][3]

Bank of Crete[edit]

In 1979, Koskotas joined the Bank of Crete as an administrative officer.[1] From 1982 to 1984 he worked in the bank's central branch in Athens as an accountant.[2] According to the Greek government, Koskotas embezzled $210 million of the bank's funds into his own account, which he used to gain control of the bank, build a publishing business that included two daily newspapers in Athens, five magazines, and a radio station, and purchase Olympiacos F.C.[1][2] Under Koskotas' leadership, the Bank of Crete grew from a small financial institution into the nation's second largest bank.[4] Koskotas claimed that prime minister Andreas Papandreou ordered state companies to deposit funds with the bank, and took bribes from stolen money.[5] Koskotas allegations against the Papandreou government resulted in the resignations of several ministers and demands for a vote of no confidence in the government.[6] In 1989 a 13-judge court set up by parliament convicted two former cabinet ministers of involvement in the scandal.[7] Papandreou was cleared of all charges by the Supreme Court in 1992 (with a 7 to 6 vote)[6]

Indictment and arrest in the United States[edit]

On October 20, 1988, Koskotas was indicted on five counts of forgery and embezzlement and was suspended from the position of bank chairman. On November 7, he eluded a 24-hour guard at his house and fled the country.[2] He picked up his wife and five children in Switzerland.[3] From there the Koskotas family went to Rio de Janeiro. On November 24, Koskotas and his family were apprehended by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Bedford, Massachusetts after landing in a private jet at Hanscom Field. After his arrest, Koskotas was jailed at the Essex County Correctional Institution in Salem, Massachusetts.[2] He was later transferred to Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury in Danbury, Connecticut.[2]

After his arrest, Koskotas fought his extradition, arguing that the charges were political and that he would face assassination if returned to Greece. On August 24, 1989, United States magistrate judge Joyce Alexander ordered that Koskotas be extradited to Greece to face charges.[8] Alexander's decision was upheld by United States district court judge Douglas Woodlock on June 27, 1990.[9]

Conviction and parole[edit]

In January 1992, Koskotas was convicted of forgery and sentenced to five years in prison.[10] In November 1994 he was found guilty of embezzlement and forgery and sentenced to 25 years in prison.[7] He was paroled and released from prison on March 16, 2001 after serving 12 years of his 25-year sentence. Koskotas is barred from leaving the country and was ordered to report to an Athens police precinct twice a month.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Ajemian, Robert (24 June 2001). "Scandals The Looting of Greece". Time. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Fulham, Dana (November 25, 1988). "US Detains Man Sought by Greece in Scandal". The Boston Globe. 
  3. ^ a b Dabilis, Andrew (May 14, 1989). "Jailed Greek Blames Corrupt Regime". The Boston Globe. 
  4. ^ McKibben, Gordon (May 14, 1989). "Love, Money Thrust Greece Into Turmoil". The Boston Globe. 
  5. ^ "Papandreou, Accused of Taking Bribes, Goes on Trial in Athens". The New York Times. 12 March 1991. p. 10. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Simons, Marlise (17 January 1992). "Greek Ex-Premier Not Guilty in Bank Scandal". The New York Times. p. 5. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Greek in bank scandal sent to jail for 25 years". Toronto Star. November 9, 1994. 
  8. ^ "U.S. to extradite Greek financier". St. Petersburg Times. August 25, 1989. 
  9. ^ "Court OKs Extradition". Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale). June 28, 1990. 
  10. ^ "Five years' jail for Koskotas". The Daily Telegraph. January 24, 1992. 
  11. ^ "X-BANKER & PUBLISHER KOSKOTAS RELEASED TODAY". Macedonian Press Agency. Helennic Resources Network. 16 March 2001. Retrieved 30 May 2010. 

Sources[edit]

  • As of this edit, this article uses content from Phantis, a source licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License which was imported into Wikipedia before November 2008 and is therefore validly licensed for use on Wikipedia. All relevant terms must be followed. The original article was at "George Koskotas".