The Hellenic Supreme Court in Athens has cleared shipowner Victor Restis of all charges of money laundering and embezzlement on the grounds that his actions were “standard business practice” and not illegal.
Restis had been accused of failing to disclose his identity in FBBank loan application documents, and receiving a preferential interest rate and terms. Prosecutors alleged the shipowner had therefore deliberately concealed the true ownership of the companies involved and acted in breach of his fiduciary duty to the bank as a board member.
The Court of Appeal said the loan in question had been for use as working capital and had duly been applied to the day-to-day running of the company and therefore had not been used inappropriately.
The court also determined that the financial stability of FBBank was in no way compromised by the loan, given that the Restis group had a net value exceeding EUR620m.
The loans had been fully paid, the second of which been paid before it was even due, so the court found no grounds for the charge of embezzlement.
The court dropped all charges against Restis, concluding that his group had intended to repay the loan all along and had the material ability to do so. The shipowner’s 17 co-defendants were also acquitted by the court.
“The past three years have been extremely difficult for me, but even more so for my family, and my 5,000 employees, whose income depends on the stability and reputation of the business. The charges against me were without foundation from the start, but I knew I had to be patient and wait for justice to prevail,” Restis said in a written statement.
“Now we must all work hard to restore a reputation for integrity as a company and a nation. Personally, I look forward to a bright and productive future for my business interests, not only in Greece but also globally.”
Restis is the head of shipping companies Seanergy Maritime, Enterprises Shipping & Trading and SwissMarine Services.