Was the Greek banker an ‘amateur’?
“Do you remember how Pera was, say, 10 years ago?” said my cameraman. “You were not able to walk on the street. Somebody would definitely steal your wallet. There were pickpockets everywhere. For the last five years, especially since Gezi last year, everything has changed. There are cameras everywhere and police everywhere. The last place to go, if you do not want to be caught! Did he not know that? Such a big guy!”
It was obvious that in the eyes of my crew who was helping me making a live broadcast from the middle of Taksim Square, Angelos Filippidis, the former president of the Greek Postbank (TT) executive committee, was not very clever. If he was trying to escape unnoticed from a red bulletin issued by Interpol at the request of the Greek authorities, the last place to hide in Turkey would be Pera. And, even worse, he would not check in at a four star hotel at the top of Siraselviler with his pockets full of money in various foreign currencies, with two Greek passports (one expired) and a Swiss residence permit. Interestingly, when he gave a telephone interview to Greek media after his arrest, he claimed that he came to Istanbul “a few days ago” to “hold some meetings” via Dubai and had a ticket to Athens for Monday - where the prosecutor looking into his case for the embezzlement of the now closed Greek Posting Bank, is waiting to interrogate him. If that is at all true then Mr. Angelos Filippidis, or the “fallen Angel” as he has been nicknamed by now, had some connection with Turkey and had probably visited the country before.
Obviously he was not watching any news from Turkey. If he was, then Pera would be an area he would better stay very much away.
“If there is somebody they are looking for, they can catch him in a few hours. All hotels have a big database and get immediate notifications for suspects from the police,” my well informed colleagues added, not forgetting that the Turkish hotels still require your passport when you check in.
But let us say that he did not know all that, that he had no idea about the police crackdown in that very area of Taksim-Beyoğlu during the Gezi events at the beginning of last summer. But at least his “contacts” in Istanbul did not warn him to stay away from the radius of Taksim? One day before his arrest, police cracked down on yet another demonstration, this time of female sympathizers of the (outlawed) Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) commemorating the murders of three PKK women killed in Paris. The women were prevented from laying a black wreath in front of the French Consulate and were pushed away by riot police using tear gas and water cannons. The French Consulate is just meters away from Mr. Filippidis’ hotel.
Obviously he was unaware. According to the official announcement, he was caught through his mobile phone and the credit cards he used in the hotel.
My Turkish colleagues were very contemptuous about the fallen president of TT. They were also quite laid back about the size of the “loot.”
How much was he supposed to have grabbed? “Well, more than 400 million euros are missing from the bank and he is said to have a few million not declared in his accounts,” I said.
They were not at all impressed with this amount.