By virtue of Law 2331/1995 issues related to money laundering are regulated in detail.

The bill establishes the obligation of bank employees and of the competent employees of credit and financial institutions to report every case of a "suspicious" transaction, in their judgement, and to investigate the origin of funds, requesting the particulars concerning the identity of the persons involved in cases where the amount exceeds 15.000 ECU. Bank secrecy is thereby waived in order for transactions giving rise to suspicions for money laundering to be investigated.

The obligation to report "suspicious" transactions and to keep records for five years relates to banks, credit and financial institutions, brokers offices, leasing companies, portfolio investment companies, foreign exchange bureaux, consumer credit institutions, insurance companies, law offices administering property and so on. In particular, brokers offices are required to furnish information and copies of their particulars concerning transactions, when requested.

The basic innovation of the law is the establishment of a special agency based in the Bank of Greece which will be the intermediary between the credit and financial institutions and the prosecutor. The agency in question will collect, evaluate and investigate information for likely money laundering. It is moreover obliged to rule on the validity of the information involved within five days and forward it to the prosecutor, otherwise it must consider the case closed and file it. The President of the agency will be a judge, whereas the agency will act as an interrogator competent to proceed with an pre-interrogation action. Banks on their part are required to appoint a senior official who will be responsible for receiving the reports, whereas for branches this role is assigned to their directors.

Activities whose proceeds are characterized as illegal include crimes such as theft or embezzlement of a high value, abuse of confidentiality, piracy, exploitation of the human body, embezzlement of state money, smuggling and illicit trade in antiquities. During the investigation of such activities the prosecutor can block the account.

Finally the law provides for the attachment and confiscation of property which derives from or is used for illegal activities, whereas even the property the accused intended to use for illegal activities can be confiscated. Moreover, the Greek state can attach any asset which the convicted person has acquired during the last five years prior to the commitment of the crime.

Athanassios Vamvoukos, Bahas, Gramatidis & Associates, Athens, Greece.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.