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Convicted Greek fraudster wanted Malta bank licence

CapitalOne investigation makes headlines in Greece since it was revealed that Maltese police were investigating alleged money laundering passing through the company of Ioannis Moustos, convicted in 2007 of securties fraud

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
25 October 2016, 9:44am
Ioannis Moustos has told Greek television that CapitalOne was owned by his ex-wife (left) the TV star Anna Maria Logothetis, which means she could have been hiding his real ownership
Ioannis Moustos has told Greek television that CapitalOne was owned by his ex-wife (left) the TV star Anna Maria Logothetis, which means she could have been hiding his real ownership
A Greek businessman connected to CapitalOne Investment Group in Malta, was planning to open a bank on the island, MaltaToday has learnt.

Ioannis Moustos had already been convicted of securities fraud in Greece in 2007, before his plan to open the bank in Malta could even achieve fruition: the reason CapitalOne had given notice to the Malta Financial Services Authority that it was increasing its share capital to €200 million.

But it is unclear so far whether Bank of Valletta, which hosted CapitalOne’s accounts, had alerted the Financial Analysis Intelligence Unit as to the large transactions passing from Greek companies into CapitalOne, when Maltese police started investigating the company on suspicion of money laundering.

CapitalOne has now made headlines in Greece since MaltaToday revealed that Maltese police were investigating the company on alleged money laundering, following a 2012 drug bust in Amsterdam.

Dutch police had requested the freeze on CapitalOne bank accounts in Malta, when it found that poker player Robert Soogea – arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking – was an owner of a CapitalOne subsidiary. 

In Malta, police found that CapitalOne was owned by nominee company Baltimore Fiduciary. But when investigators on 13 January 2013 informed top brass that Nationalist MP Beppe Fenech Adami – then parliamentary assistant for home affairs – was a Baltimore director, the police investigation into alleged money laundering was not pursued further.

Fenech Adami claims he was not a hands-on director at Baltimore and that he was never remunerated for his services. Although he signed off on the fiduciary’s annual accounts, CapitalOne’s banking transactions were managed by Baltimore’s owner and co-director, Richard Abdilla Castillo.

A inquiry is now underway to establish why the police investigation did not proceed as expected.

In Greece, Ioannis Moustos’s name is not new, with a colourful history that includes securities fraud and ongoing legal troubles.

Earlier this year, Baltimore Fiduciary Services sold off CapitalOne Investment Group to Moustos – effectively ‘returning’ the company to its owner, almost three years since a police investigation into the company appeared to have been shelved by Maltese police.

Beppe Fenech Adami, the Nationalist MP who was a Baltimore director, resigned his directorship in January 2014. MaltaToday has reported that the police marked the CapitalOne file ‘PU’ – ‘put away’ – in December 2013. Earlier, in January 2013, the file was marked ‘BU, three months’ – ‘bring up in three months’ – when investigators alerted top brass of the presence of a politically exposed person in Baltimore.

In 2000, Greek businessman Moustos was fined 80 million drachmas (€234,000) over insider information connected to the shares of the company Electra, and in 2001 he faced new legal troubles when charged with securities fraud on the transfer of shares in the Tasoglou company.

He had to pay bail of 100 million drachmas (€290,000), as CEO of the brokerage firm Lead Capital, after being charged with direct complicity in the fraud of 1.1 billion (€3.2 million) drachmas and money laundering, according to newspaper Kathimerini. 

In 2002, the Greek Capital Market Commission fined Moustos €1.46 million for the Tasoglou securities fraud. He filed an appeal with the administrative courts but he lost the case in 2013, when the Council of State decided that the fine was fair.

In 2007 he was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, suspended for three years, for the Tasoglou securities fraud.

Moustos and another 35 persons are now facing charges of felony for fraud and money laundering through securities transactions in 1999 and 2000. Although first acquitted, the Supreme Court reversed the judgement.

Throughout this period, in 2011, Moustos attempted to list his company Avacom on the Cypriot stock exchange.

According to documentation seen by MaltaToday, Avacom’s shares were held by TopCapital Holdings Ltd (70%), while the rest was split between Senoblema Trading and Chiriphera Enterprises. All three companies were reportedly subsidiaries of CapitalOne Investment Group at one time, while Gillesa Shipping was the ultimate beneficial owner of CapitalOne.

The owner of Gillesa Shipping was, at the time, Moustos’s then wife, Anna Maria Logothetis. But a journalist for a Greek financial newspaper told MaltaToday that it was likely Moustos wanted to hide his real ownership.

But most of these companies are today no longer trading, having been used by CapitalOne to purchase a controlling stake in the GATS tourism group.

MaltaToday has also independently confirmed that Moustos registered an offshore company in Panama, MCM Petroleum SA, in 1997.

Moustos was also attempting to open a bank in Malta, a venture for which he was preparing with a request to the MFSA to raise his authorized share capital to €200 million.

When he was unable to obtain a licence in Malta, in June 2013 he registered the company First Merchant banking corporation, in London.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.