AEK Athens FC's majority shareholder Hrisostomos 'Makis' Psomiadis has been charged with embezzling €19m from the club's accounts.
Financial crimes squad
The move, by the public prosecutor of Athens, follows a report by Greece's financial crimes squad who were called in to investigate the club in January. The report was based on an audit of AEK's books, administrators' bank accounts, transactions and allegedly forged invoices.
It stated that Psomiadis and two cousins, who have also been charged, siphoned €19m out of AEK in the period between July 2001 and January 2003 - funds deriving from the club's television deal with Alpha Digital Synthesis S.A. and prize money from their participation in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League first group stage.
'Makis' Psomiadis, a former newspaper owner and nightclub impresario, was handed a 12-year prison sentence last October for a forgery conviction but freed on appeal after producing evidence that he was suffering from tuberculosis. He took over AEK in July 2001 after striking a deal with owners ENIC to buy 38 per cent of the club's shares.
Between then and January this year he was in charge of all AEK's affairs but had no official title because of his criminal record. In January he stood down after star player Demis Nikolaidis filed charges against him for invasion of privacy after Psomiadis allegedly burst into the Greek international's home and threatened him.
Although AEK have qualified for next season's Champions League by finishing third in the Alpha Ethniki, the club are in financial turmoil. Players who are owed wages are considering a joint petition to the Greek governing body, the Hellenic Football League, in order to be freed from their contracts and seek their money through the courts.
Out of contract
Ten other players will be out of contract in June, while coach Dusan Bajevic has told AEK's temporary board that he expects answers on the club's future by 3 June.
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