Friday, May 11, 2012

Criminal Profile: Emmanuel Alexandros Petrakis

Emmanuel Alexandros Petrakis, born in 1972, is tied to the Greek shipping industry and is a known oil smuggler and fraudster living in Athens.

Our investigation into Petrakis led us to a chain of companies that are being used as fronts for oil smuggling, as well as a specific case were able to document through Greek court proceedings, involving fraud and extortion against a US client.

Petrakis was involved in the theft of a US-owned yacht and fraud in connection with a massive loan issued by a US-based company. In a complicated case, a Greek court ruled against Petrakis’ claims that he had legally purchased the US-owned yacht in question, concluding that the alleged “purchase” of the yacht was a sham and never actually occurred. The court also ordered Petrakis to pay some $100,000 in legal bills to the US party – money that has never been paid in violation of the court ruling. Petrakis continues to attempt to extort and harass the US yacht owner.

Petrakis’ accomplice in the fraud case was, Iannis Karageorgis, whom court convicted of stealing the yacht, which was eventually discovered in Turkey.  

More significantly, there is evidence linking E.A. Petrakis to petroleum smuggling through a number of front companies (listed below). An investigation into Petrakis’ activities were part of a larger investigation into oil smuggling in Greece, which was examined from a bottom-up perspective, attempting to pick out the smaller fish that lead to the bigger fish. There is evidence that the Greek police department is investigating these links and the companies suspected of involvement in these illicit activities.

This investigation, however, turned up perhaps a more interesting link between Emmanuel Alexandros Petrakis and what is undoubtedly the biggest organized crime case of the century in Greece: The kidnapping of Greek shipping tycoon Pericles Panagopolous in 2009. The trial of the crime syndicate members accused of involvement in this kidnapping case is ongoing and is an extremely public event. Emmanuel Alexandros Petrakis was former owner of the shipping line, Mayan lines, which was purchased by Panagopolous’ Attica group. We are currently following the money trail from this purchase and will provide link charts demonstrating the connection between Petrakis and Panagopolous.

Another interesting link arose in the form of a business location identified as “Forbes Park”, in a swanky Athens suburb. An investigation of this address was prompted by the discovery of E.A. Petrakis’ email address, which originates from this location. Interestingly, this location, which is ostensibly a high-end real estate company, is guarded by a very professional security force that is former military by all appearances.
Emmanuel Alexandros Petrakis is believed to enjoy the protection of long-time family friend and one of the biggest names in fraud and white collar crime in Greece, Theodorus Karampetis.

Suspected Petroleum Smuggling Front Companies (source, intelligence from an agency currently investigating this case):
  • Wholesale Fruit and Vegetables (formerly Energotexniki Petroleum Company General Trade LTD 
  • Notioanatoliki Enegiake Ltd
  • Capo shipping Limited 
  • Wave Masters Shipping LTD

Our investigation into E.A. Petrakis continues and we welcome any information readers have to offer in this case. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lavrentios Lavrentiadis and the Proton Bank Scandal

The Proton Bank scandal has not received due attention, either in local or international media, largely because of the distraction of the economic crisis in Greek and the resulting unrest.
In late March, Greek prosecutors filed felony charges against Lavrentis Lavrentiadis over a massive embezzlement scandal that involved more than €600 million in bad loans and led to the downfall of Proton Bank, which was effectively nationalized in October.Prosecutors formally charged the 39-year-old businessman with being part of a criminal gang that embezzled Proton funds and defrauded the government. He faces life in prison if convicted, along with 27 other suspected associates.

Proton Bank head Lavrentios Lavrentiadis has been indicted for embezzling €51 million, though that amount is likely ten times larger when figuring in all the commercial transactions involved.

Businessmen with interests related to Lavrendiadis’ companies used the bank and citizen deposits as their personal investment fund. Tens of millions in preferential loans were granted to a small circle of Lavrendiadis’ acquaintances. These funds were used, among other things, to purchase stakes in Alapis pharmaceuticals and Alapis subsidiaries. According to the investigation, mismanagement of the Alapis investment cost €20.1 million after Proton Bank funded the acquisition of the company’s subsidiaries.

Deutsche Bank served as adviser to the restructuring of Lavrentiadis’ holdings, advising him to sell his businesses and concentrate on the pharmaceutical manufacturing sector, which is expected to develop after the serious reform of the public health insurance system. The sale was non-transparent.

According to the Greek central bank, Proton Bank provided €524 million for the purchase of subsidiaries, €490 million of which was transferred to Alapis.

Let’s take a look at the suspect acquisitions, all of which took place in a span of two days, from 7-9 June 2010:  
  • On 9 June 2010, Rovinvest, owned by Sofoklis Rovic, acquired two companies, Provet and Veterinary Supply, with funds from a bond issue worth €57.6 million. The funding request was issued to Proton Bank on 8 June, via fax, and the funds released the following day.
  • On that same day, the acquisition of Alapis Medical & Diagnostics by ╬Łovo Atreus was funded. Novo Atreus was owned by Yannis Bailan, who opened the company with the help of notary Catherine Peleki, the wife of former New Democracy minister George Voulgarakis and herself involved in previous financial scandals, notably the Vatopedi scandal.      

  • A company named Medic was purchased by First Aid Care, which had been established just days before the transfer by Antonis Rogopoulos, CEO of Kareyskaki SA, which manages the football stadium of Olympiakos FC and is 50% owned by Lavrentiadis. The acquisition was funded with €60 million from Proton Bank.    
  • Devtec, owned by Pantelis Davatzis, a long-time acquaintance of Lavrentiadis, also borrowed €57 million from Proton to buy Alapis group company Gerolymatos Animal Health through Devtec.

  • Ballis Personal and Home Care was also purchased from the Apalis group by Costas Ballis for €75 million in funding from Proton Bank.

  • Sciens Cyprus Properties & Holdings Ltd was founded on 24 December 2010 as an offshore company registered in the Cayman Islands. That same day it submitted a loan request to Proton Bank for €35 million to buy unspecified real estate. It was only two months later that the reason for the loan was submitted on paper.

  • Proton Bank also lent €3.6 million to Andreas Rialas, president and major shareholder in On Telecoms in what auditors later said was a high-risk transaction that initially listed real estate in London as a security but which was later removed from the loan contract and the loan granted without securities.
  • Proton Bank granted a €320,000 loan to Spiros Martsekis, deputy general manager of KPMG. Lavrentiadis is the godfather of Martsekis’ child and as such the loan repayment terms were “favorable”.

  • Proton Bank also lent basketball player Thassos Delibasakis from the Panionios team €650,000, which he was unable to repay. A Proton Bank founder, Elias Lianos, is also the main shareholder in the Panionios basketball club. 
Deutsche Bank, which was responsible for the internal financial control over the transactions, was taken to task by the Greek central bank for failing to initiative proper oversight and recording insufficient information. Deutsche Bank records fail to provide sufficient data for the business plans of the companies that borrowed from Proton. There was no attempt to demonstrate expected cash flows or to meet the standard requirements for these loans, let alone to demonstrate ability to repay the loans.

Note: We will continue to follow developments in this case.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Criminal Profile: Panagiotis Vlastos

Panagiotis Vlastos, 41, is a convicted murderer and racketeer. In March 2012 he was convicted of masterminding the 2009 kidnapping of shipping tycoon Pericles Panagopolous, along with Yiannis Skaftouros. Panagopolous was released by his kidnappers after the payment of a 30-million euro ransom. Four others were convicted of carrying out the kidnapping.

In December 2010, he staged a failed prison break attempt in coordination with terrorist group Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, taking visitors and guards hostage at Korydallos Prison in an escape attempt. They released their hostages unharmed after negotiations with police.

Vlastos also staged prison escape attempts in 2006 and 2009 by helicopter with the help of Vassilis Paleokostas and Alket Rizaj. He has been involved in criminal activities since very young and came to the public’s attention in the 1990s when his brother was killed in a mafia turf war during a shoot-out with police. Vlastos’ crime syndicate is suspected of involvement in a number of other cases, including:
  • The murder of businessman George Gousios on 12 September 2008
  • Attempted murder of an Arta businessman by planting a large bomb in his residence, though this attack was thwarted by police
  • Plotting the murder of the governor of the Trikala prison and a prison social worker, where Vlastos was an inmate
  • Plotting the murder of a nightclub owner, whom police smuggled out of the country for protection
  • Plotting the murder of a Malandrinos prison inmate and arch rival of Vlastos en route to court with a car bomb and a drive-by shooting (the inmate’s court transport date was moved back, however, and the plan was thus thwarted
  • Plotting to murder three members of the rival Corinth criminal gang
* Note: We are continually working to update and expand these criminal profiles, so please keep checking back