Jailtime may be the next pitstop in the lives of two young people who, until recently, enjoyed the comforts and joys of affluence. The two protagonists that head private electricity providers Energa and Hellas Power are being accused of holding back 256 million euros from the Greek state.
Vassilis Milionis, the head of Hellas Power, wore a grey suit at the trial and appeared absorbed in the proceedings. His co-defendent Aristeidis Floros sat beside him, looking equally mesmerized as the embezzlement case against them unfolded.
The emblematic case includes of shades of inept state regulatory oversight of a crucial economic sector (retail energy), accusations of “crony capitalism” and extreme tax injustice, given that the defendents stand accused of pilfering millions while ordinary wage-earners, property owners and pensioners face stiff fines and penalties if overdue on their debts to the state.
Now, three years after it first began, the embezzlement and money-laundering case is being brought before the three-membered Criminal Court of Appeal of Athens. Nineteen Energa and Hellas Power executives are being tried.
Judge Anna Angelatou is presiding over the high-profile trial brought forth by prosectur Meropi Sambali.
If found guilty, the defendants could be served a life sentence that may only be reduced if the court recognizes extenuating circumstances. It should be also noted that a “life sentence” for a non-violent conviction in Greece rarely means actual prison time of more than 20 years. In an effort to lighten their load, the defendants signed documentation citing their volition to immediately returning 83 million euros from the total of 103 million euros benchmarked for the Greek State. They maintain that this money is available in their company accounts.
Handcuffed, Vasilis Milionis, hides behind his lawyers and policemen on his way to court
By returning money owed to the public sector, the men hope to receive milder treatment. Already, Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis, Deputy Finance Minister Nadia Valavani, Public Revenue General Secretary Katerina Savvaidis and the heads of the competent tax offices have been notified of the intent of accused accused parties to pay back part of the amount owed. This means that the state can immediately proceed to claim these amounts.
The prosecutor has expressed reservations regarding the offer of partial-payment. Sambali states that the accused have not expressed the intent to fully honor the commitment for the full restitution to the state. She added that the accused should pay the full amount and not return less than half earnt from their allegedly corrupt activities.
Aristeidis Floros on his way to court
The final decision will be made by the court. If the court accepts the part-payment, leniency will be exercised for at least five of the basic defendents of the trial, Aristeidis Floros, Achilleas Floros (Aristeidis’ father), Vasilis Milionis, Stephanos Siafakas and Nikos Dekolis.
From 2006 through to 2011, the father-and-son owners of Energa – Aristeidis and Achilleas Floros – as well as Vasilis Milionas of Hellas Power failed to pay taxes they received from their clients gathering overdue debts worth 75 million euros (Hellas Power) and 96 million euros (Energa). The representatives of the two companies failed to pay the Greek State taxes for the single property tax (ENFIA) and didn’t meet payments of emergency taxes imposed by municipalities. All up, the total duties they failed to pay from October 2011 amount to more than 256 million euros. The accused also have dozens of bank transactions with offshore companies, specifically two deposits were made to Switzerland worth 24 and 12 million euros.
Vasilis Milionis on a recent shopping trip with his friend, hardly looks the pauper
The representatives of the two companies failed to pay the Greek State taxes for the single property tax (ENFIA) and didn’t meet payments of emergency taxes imposed by municipalities. All up, the total duties they failed to pay from October 2011 amount to 256 million euros. The accused also have dozens of bank transactions with offshore companies, specifically two deposits were made to Switzerland worth 24 and 12 million euros.
29 witnesses have already testified. Independent Administration for Electric Energy Transfer (ADMIE) Chief Spyridon Vassos said that the total amount owed by Energa and hellas Power has yet to be calculated. The amount could end up being higher than 256 million euros.