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Banker Wanted In $300 Million Scandal In Greece Arrested In Boston Area

November 24, 1988

BOSTON (AP) _ A banker who fled from his native Greece after being indicted in a $300 million scandal that has shaken the socialist government of Premier Andreas Papandreou, has been arrested, the FBI said today.

George Koskotas, 34, was arrested Wednesday evening after he landed at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., aboard a private jet on a flight from Bermuda. He was turned over the U.S. Marshals Service pending a hearing Friday before a U.S. magistrate, said FBI spokesman Jeff Maynard.

FBI officials said no additional information was immediately available.

Koskotas is wanted in Greece for alleged fraud and embezzlement of bank funds in a scandal that has shaken Papandreou’s government. Opposition conservatives said Koskotas was permitted to escape so he would not implicate top government officials in illegal financial deals.

Public Order Minister Tassos Sehiotis, whose ministry was responsible for police surveillance of Koskotas, resigned Nov. 7, the day after Koskotas’ fled Greece.

Koskotas, a Greek citizen who holds a green card permitting him to work in the United States, had been ordered to remain in Greece while officials investigated alleged financial irregularities at the Bank of Crete, which he had controlled.

He was suspended Oct. 20 as Bank of Crete chairman and indicted on five counts of forgery and embezzlement. He had bought a controlling interest in the bank in 1984 after working in its central Athens branch for two years as an accountant.

In Athens on Wednesday, Spyros Papadatos, temporary commissioner appointed by the Greek government this month to investigate, said Koskotas systematically ″siphoned about $135 million from the Bank of Crete, which he passed through his own account.″

Papadatos said Koskotas also used bank money to make loans without collateral and give gifts to soccer clubs, athletes, business associates, journalists and friends. His report did not say if any illegalities were involved in the loans and gifts totaling $200 million.

The socialist government has been accused of dragging its feet in opening the investigation. In addition to the minister of public order, the minister of justice has been forced to resign.

Magazines and leading newspapers accused Papandreou’s son George, the minister of education, of being involved in financial dealings with Koskotas and using his bank to illegally transfer money out of Greece. The reports also named Agamemnon Koutsogiorgas, who serves as minister to the premier’s office, and senior socialist party officials.

However, Papadatos’ report did not accuse any political leaders of wrongdoing.

His report said Koskotas used bank funds to build up a publishing empire including five magazines and three national daily papers. Later, he bought a controlling interest in a soccer club.

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