A corruption magistrate on Tuesday issued a warrant for the arrest of Artemis Sorras, already a fugitive from justice, after a first-instance court public prosecutor charged Sorras and seven of his associates with serious criminal offences.
The case against the self-proclaimed billionaire, who claims to have enough money to pay off Greece's debt, and the members of his political grouping "Assembly of Greeks" (Ellinon Synelefsis) was forwarded to the magistrate for corruption after the conclusion of the prosecutor's investigation into the actions of Sorras and his associates.
The charges against them include attempted fraud and perpetrated fraud against the public sector, banks and social insurance funds, aggravated by laws for public-sector embezzlement, the formation, running and joining a criminal organisation, spreading false news, provoking and inciting others to criminal acts and misdemeanours, legalising income from illegal activity, perjury and false litigation.
Based on the evidence collected in the prosecutor's investigation, roughly 12,000 citizens were convinced by Sorras' claim that he possessed "vast sums" and, acting on his prompting and hia promise to 'cover' their debts, refused to pay taxes, social insurance contributions and other state-sector payments, even though Sorras had declared zero income to tax authorities for a succession of years. The public prosecutor noted that the damage to the IKA social insurance fund in just 115 cases where the insured produced the "authorisation" documents sold to them by "Ellinon Synelefsis" amounted to 5.0 million euros.
Even after Sorras had been exposed as a fraud, the public prosecutor noted, dozens of people continued to cite his "billions" when refusing to pay taxes and contributions. Prosecuting authorities noted that the total damage to the state sector cannot yet be fully calculated.
Sorras has been wanted since March 17, when a Patras appeals court passed judgement on Sorras and his wife in absentia, sentencing them to eight years in prison effective immediately and a five-year deprivation of political rights for embezzlement. Neither Sorras nor his wife were present at the trial and he has been a fugitive since that time.
Greek prosecuting authorities began a wide-ranging and methodical investigation into Sorras' activities following a request that Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis made to the Greek Supreme Court prosecution department.