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Athens Macedonian News Agency: News in English, 16-05-11

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] President Pavlopoulos says solidarity essential in managing refugee crisis
  • [02] Idomeni residents sue minister for failing to tackle problems caused by refugee camp
  • [03] Dozens arrested for investment fraud amounting to millions of dollars, euros

  • [01] President Pavlopoulos says solidarity essential in managing refugee crisis

    President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos on Wednesday received the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for International Migration Peter Sutherland, expressing his agreement with a European Commission decision to impose sanctions on countries that refuse to show solidarity and accept their share of the burdens from the refugee crisis.

    "In think it is very significant that the European Commission and the European Commissioner for Migration, Mr. Avramopoulos, in person have decided that these obligations must be met, even through by imposing the necessary sanctions. We must all understand that Europe is an area of rights but also obligations," Pavlopoulos said.

    The decision taken by the UN to support solidarity in the refugee issue was something that greatly helped in the implementation of European policy, he added.

    The president referred to the statement made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, exclusively to the ANA-MPA, that the refugee issue was "not a crisis of numbers; it is a crisis of solidarity" and highlighting the need for "equitable responsibility sharing" to ease the burden on countries bearing the brunt of the crisis. Pavlopoulos said that this was extremely important for Europe, where the phenomenon of countries refusing to accept their share of responsibility and show solidarity had emerged.

    The Greek president noted the need to implement the fifth aim of the Immigration and Asylum Pact concerning illegal migration, as opposed to the refugee issue, following a sharp rise in migration from African countries, in particular. He noted that this called for cooperation with non-EU countries in order to encourage the synergy between migration and development and tackle the illegal migration issue at its root. He also asked for a more active UN presence in Greece, in response to the refugee crisis.

    Sutherland underlined that the international community must show solidarity in response to the refugee crisis and especially to countries like Greece, which are on the front lines.

    "What Greece and the Greeks have done during these difficult times is something of which you can be proud and Europe can be proud of the solidarity that Greeks have shown to the refugees. These are the European values, many of which were born in Greece," he said.

    Regarding illegal migration, Sutherland said an effort was underway to open the doors to legal migration and this could only be achieved through solidarity, as shown by Greece and Italy.

    "What we need is a European policy for this and not a policy that erects fences and walls...this is what Europe must do and I know the European Commission is working on this," he added.

    [02] Idomeni residents sue minister for failing to tackle problems caused by refugee camp

    Six residents from the village of Idomeni on the Greek border, including the community's president Xanthoula Soupli, on Wednesday filed a legal suit against Alternate Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas for failing to protect the village from problems created by the informal refugee camp set up nearby.

    Among others, they claim a "complete absence of state control" for which they hold Toskas primarily responsible, due to his failure to take decisions to tackle the problems that have arisen and for allowing the area to descend into a state "where everyone does as they please, without being accountable to anyone."

    In their complaint, the six residents said there were daily incidents of vandalism to houses in the village and public infrastructure, with refugees entering homes unchecked and damaging property, while the refugees and migrants faced dangers to their own health or even their life, lacking any help from the appropriate state services.

    Their suit lists a series of criminal offences that they consider have been committed, such as failure to avert public danger, dangerous public harm, disturbing the peace, violation of measures to protect public health and others.

    [03] Dozens arrested for investment fraud amounting to millions of dollars, euros

    The Hellenic Police (ELAS) on Wednesday announced dozens of arrests in connection with an international financial swindle defrauding unsuspecting investors of millions. The bust, first announced on Tuesday, followed an investigation by the Attica Security Police Organised Crime and Trafficking in Persons Department.

    In a press conference on Wednesday, Attica Security Police chief Christos Papazafiris said the masterminds of the fraudulent scheme were a 48-year-old Greek broker reputedly "specialising" in foreign exchange trades and a 53-year-old Greek businessman with activities based chiefly in Ukraine. The two set up a criminal ring that used a complex structure of offshore firms in foreign countries to defraud investors, earning estimated profits of at least 35 million U.S. dollars and three million euros since 2005.

    Papazafiris said the leaders of the criminal ring were arrested on Tuesday during coordinated raids in various parts of Attica, along with three women aged 35, 39 and 48. All five are accused of forming and joining a criminal organisation, criminal fraud and legalising income from illegal activity.

    An additional 18 people will also face charges in connection with the case, among 12 Greeks (that include three lawyers and some state employees), two Turkish nationals, one Russian and one Indian.

    Police uncovered the ring's activities while investigating a case of fraud and embezzlement linked to investments in foreign exchange. Its members used a complex system of local and offshore firms they secretly controlled, through which they claimed to make supposed foreign exchange "investments". They would approach potential investors, selling the "specialist expertise" and "academic credentials" of the 48-year-old broker to persuade them to make very large investments by promising extremely generous returns, exceeding 3 pct a month.

    They would then send their "clients" monthly updates reporting steadily rising profits, thus persuading them not to remove their capital and even to increase their investment, while also attracting new investors to join their scheme. They would then use the new cash to pay the supposed "profits" or even the total capital of the original investments, building up even greater confidence for their supposed services, while also charging large fees for them.

    In this way, the organisation managed to keep the scheme afloat until May 2015, by which time all the capital entrusted to them had run out.

    The ring's activities were traced back to 2005, when the 48-year-old broker had set up a U.S.-based firm investing in foreign exchange. In 2010, along with the 53-year-old, he set up a similar firm in Wales that was also owned by his 48-year-old wife. In 2012, the ring transferred the base of the U.S. firm to the British Virgin Islands in 2012, converting it into a mutual fund. They then set up two more identical funds in the British Virgin Islands in 2012 and 2013.

    The organisation also employed three lawyers that, in the capacity of legal consultants to the three firms, drafted fraudulent letters that they used to deceive investors. A large number of accomplices, including some state employees, then helped "launder" the money through bank accounts owned by some 60 offshore firms based in various tax havens and to conceal large sums from Greek authorities.

    According to investigators, at least 190 million U.S. dollars and 1.5 million euros were moved through these accounts between 2012 and 2015. They suspect that the ring's profits made were actually much higher, however, since many of the prospective investors entrusted them with cash, for which there is no record.

    During raids on the homes, offices and other premises used by the suspects, police found a host of documents relating to the formation and running of the investment structures, contracts, agreements and a great many bank receipts. They also found 25 PCs and a large number of data storage devices.

    All the individuals arrested will be led before the appropriate public prosecutor.


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