A truly incredible story is emerging from the depths of the Aegean, with a Luxembourg court claiming that Greek side AEK Athens have been the beneficiaries of swindled and stolen funds, which have subsequently been used to fund their stay in the Greek top-flight.
Who owns AEK Athens?
Greek outfit AEK Athens are under the ownership of 70-year-old business tycoon Dimitris Melissanidis. His current presidency marks his second stint in charge of the club, having also run the show in the 1990s.
As such figures tend to, he therefore has fingers in many pies when it comes to making money, with the Greek also having founded Aegean Marine Petroleum network inc (Aegean oil), an international fuel company, in 1999.
Aegean Oil, however, found itself out of business in the latter part of 2018 as a result of accounting fraud, which saw around 200 million euros struck from their asset sheet, plunging the company significantly enough into the red that they were forced to file for bankruptcy.
Questions surrounding these funds and where they ultimately ended up have been circulating ever since.
Melissanidis accused of using funds to pay for playing staff and AEK Athens facilities
In the last week, a court in Luxembourg have filed a case that provides what they see as evidence for player payments courtesy of Aegean funding. As per Paul Nicholson of insideworldfootball.com, AEK received in excess of 10 million euros from a middleman between Aegean and Oiltank Engineering and Consulting.
This funding allegedly went on from 2015-2018, until the aforementioned company went out of business. At one point, AEK Athens’ financial manager, Dimitris Patkas, asked the director of OTE to “ensure that by the end of the month of 30/9/15 the instalments for [Ronald] Vargas of €19,890 and for [Diego] Buonanotte €23,880 will be paid.”
Bounanotte joined the club in 2015, but left a year later after helping AEK to their last silverware, the Greek cup. Vargas too joined the Greek outfit in 2015, leaving the club two years later for Australian side Newcastle Jets.
Meanwhile, Patkas is also on record emailing owner Melissanidis, asking for a loan of “let’s say, 5 million” from OTE, which if true demonstrates the owner’s entanglement with the whole situation beyond any doubt.
Should the claims be proven true, there could be significant repercussions for the club as well as their owner, with AEK having played in the UEFA Europa League as well as having lifted silverware in 2015, the year which the money was used to fund player transfers.
While the case rumbles on, however, no verdict can be reached.
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This article was edited by Conor Laird.