Greece Turns to London in Search of Taxes
The London real estate market was abuzz. A wealthy Greek banker wanted to spend up to £60 million (nearly $100 million) for a home, and was in a hurry to make a deal.
Evangelos Meimarakis, the president of the Greek Parliament, is among the more than 30 Greek politicians under investigation for possible tax evasion and the illegal accumulation of wealth.
Real estate agents recall sifting the listings for some of the most prestigious, and expensive, properties in South Kensington, a favored area for London’s international set.
But the house hunter, Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, never made a purchase in the spring of 2011, agents say. Within months his failing institution, a small lender known as Proton Bank, was seized. The Greek government, suspecting that Mr. Lavrentiadis may have moved money out of the country, is now investigating his activities to determine whether he engaged in fraud and money laundering.
Greece, heavily in debt and desperate to track down money wherever it can, is leaving no stone unturned.
Mr. Lavrentiadis has denied the accusations, and his lawyer did not respond to questions about any interest his client might have had in London properties. But the Greek banker’s rumored flirtation with this city’s prime real estate market, and the frenzy it stirred among sales agents, is telling.
At the request of the Athens government, the British financial authorities recently handed over a detailed list of about 400 Greek individuals who have bought and sold London properties since 2009.