ΝΕΟ ΕΛΛΗΝ: ΕΠΙΧΕΙΡΗΣΗ "ΖΟΡΜΠΑΣ", ΗΤΑΝ 21 ΙΟΥΝΙΟΥ 1989. ΑΝΟΙΓΟΥΜΕ ΤΟ ΦΑΚΕΛΟ ΚΤΗΜΑΤΙΚΗ!
"U.S. Charges Greek Bank Ran Scheme to Evade Tax"
By LEONARD BUDER Published: June 22, 1989
The Government yesterday accused a large Greek bank and 14 employees of running an extensive money-laundering scheme that allowed customers to send at least $700 million to Greece to evade American taxes.
Thirteen of the bank's employees were arrested yesterday and another is being sought.
So overt was the scheme, the Government said, that the mortgage bank advertised in Greek-language newspapers in the United States, promising to transfer money secretly to Greece without alerting the Internal Revenue Service.
The complaint, filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, cited an advertisement that read: ''National Mortgage Bank of Greece Builds Your Tomorrow, Today. Tax Free, High Interest, Secret, Guaranteed Deposits in Dollars to Greece.'' Ties to Greek Government
The National Mortgage Bank of Greece, according to Federal authorities, is 47 percent owned by the National Bank of Greece S.A. The Greek Government, they said, has substantial financial interest and control in the National Bank of Greece.
In the complaint, the Government said that about $700 million in such deposits had been sent to Greece since 1983. ''This is just a low ball-park figure,'' said Andrew J. Maloney, the United States Attorney in Brooklyn. ''The actual count, we believe, will be much higher.''
Arthur R. Stiffel, the special agent in charge of the Customs Service in New York, described the illegal operation as the largest money-laundering scheme not related to drugs broken up in the United States.
The Government accused the mortgage bank and its employees of violating the Federal Bank Secrecy Act by engaging in money laundering and conspiring to defraud the I.R.S. The authorities said the mortgage bank's offices involved in the purported scheme operated as a branch of a foreign bank in violation of state and Federal laws. The offices were not chartered to conduct regular banking business, like accepting deposits and executing withdrawals, in the United States, the authorities said. Search Warrants Served
Search warrants were executed yesterday on branch offices at 8802 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn; 33-20 Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria, Queens, and in Hicksville, L.I.; Roslindale, Mass; Upper Darby, Pa., and Chicago. The mortgage bank has other offices in Boston, Oak Lawn, Ill., and Canada.
The Government complaint said that at a meeting last Dec. 23 with an undercover Customs agent posing as the owner of a limousine service, an employee of the Queens branch told him: ''Bring the money here. Tax-free! Not reported!''
The Government also charged that the mortgage bank's employees did not file the currency transaction reports required by Federal law and coached account holders in ways to avoid the the Bank Secrecy Act. These methods included keeping cash transactions below $10,000 and giving false names when making cash transactions.
The charges in the complaint against the bank and its employees resulted from a continuing investigation being conducted by the Customs Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the authorities said.
If found guilty, the mortgage bank could be fined up to $250,000 on each violation of the Federal bank secrecy laws. The actual number of violations is still to be determined, said Thomas H. Roche and Bonnie S. Klapper, the prosecutors assigned to the case. The 14 employees named in the complaint could face 10 or 20 years in prison, the prosecutors said.