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Greek Fury As Bank Boss Moves Money To UK

(c) Sky News 2012

A political storm has erupted in Athens after a former bank boss admitted he moved money out of Greece to buy a multimillion-pound London home - as his firm headed towards insolvency.

Theodoros Pantalakis, former chief executive of the Agricultural Bank (known as ATEbank) admitted he transferred of 8m euro (£6.35m) of his savings to buy the London property.

However, Mr Pantalakis denied any wrongdoing and said he paid tax and declared the purchase to authorities in 2011.

He told the Financial Times: "I'm on holiday and I don’t plan to say anything more until I come back to Athens."

Although Mr Pantalakis has not been legally challenged on the transaction, many have criticised the ethics of the purchase.

An unnamed Greek banker told the newspaper: "Nobody has suggested Mr Pantalakis sent the funds abroad illegally ... but there is clearly an ethical issue since he was serving as the head of a big state bank at the time of financial and economic crisis."

It comes as other bankers, politicians and wealthy Greeks have bought properties in London and other havens to avoid the crisis in Greece.

The ex-bank boss is due to be quizzed by a government committee about his three-year reign at ATEbank, following loans of more than 150m euro (£119m) made to two of Greece’s main political parties.

It is claimed that the loans to New Democracy and the PanHellenic Socialist Movement were not collateralised properly.

Mr Pantalakis stepped down from ATEbank last month after Piraeus Bank bought some of its assets for 95m euro (£75.4m).

It was part of a move to aid Greece’s troubled banking sector but slammed as a "great robbery" by the radical left-wing main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras.

Mr Pantalakis had opposed the privatisation of ATEbank and instead insisted it could be recapitalised with 4.6bn euro (£3.65bn) from the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund.

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