"Attention, misleading phone calls!" was the warning that struck the home page of the association of the affected by the collapse of Aspis Pronia - also known as Aspida. This was the first of the already ten companies that collapsed on the insurance market in Greece in the last three years. Revelations that the companies have been playing dangerous games with the investors’ money came one after another.
Today the association of the victims of the Aspis collapse by all means try to prevent the worst – to lose their investments forever.
The message published on Wednesday, February 16, this year makes it clear that private insurance companies have acquired the personal data of the insured at Aspis and use them to attract new customers. In this case, a representative of a particular brokerage company for insurance and banking services called the organising secretary of the association Nikos Kehayaglou on the home phone. The officer said that the company protected the interests of those affected by the collapse of the financial group Aspida and offered him prolongation of the life insurance contract signed with the closed Aspis.
At first glance the proposal seems attractive and GRReporter decided to contact the president of the association Teoharis Petridis to explain what the trap of this call is.
He explained that other insurance companies have begun to seek new customers from the portfolio of Aspis immediately after its closure. Petridis said that the company has an extremely large number of contracts and the names of the clients have been taken out and delivered by Aspida’s staff to competing companies like Ethniki Pisti and others.
What is the aim of such calls?
There were calls such as "Come with us and you will have your contracts renewed," without explaining to the people that their old contracts would be void.
The sole purpose was to deceive the victims of the Aspis’ collapse that they would be able to continue their old contracts and would not lose the money paid over the years to the closed company. Actually, the insurance companies only want to have new customers no matter that this information misleads the people.
You have announced that you will file a claim against the state for criminal negligence and omissions by supervisory authorities for about 138 million euros. How far have you gone with the claim?
We have not filed it formally but a group of very good lawyers is preparing the documents and we will formally introduce it in court soon.
You know very well how slow the Greek courts are and a case like this could take many years. Are you ready for this fight?
We believe that by enforcing this procedure we will "push" the government to find a successor company to take the insurance contracts of Aspida, as stated by law.
The law, which determines the activity of insurance companies and was passed last summer, says that the contracts of the victims of the Aspis collapse should be covered by another insurance company until August 2011. Otherwise, the company would be declared insolvent. What does this mean for you, the insured in Aspis?
This means initially that the insurance contracts signed with that company will be cancelled and will be no longer valid. Then, Aspis property and assets will be evaluated and correlated to the debts. If, for example, the company’s deficit is estimated at 80%, the investor who has paid a total of 100,000 euro will receive 20,000 euros. Moreover, this whole procedure will take at least ten years.
You do not have much time to August. Does this mean that you can lose your money?
Law 3867/2010, which was passed on August 3 the previous year said that if an insurance successor company is not found within a year insolvency will be declared as I described it. As far as I know there is no insurance companies that are interested.
However, I believe that the negative environment surrounding the case will change and disappear after the Bank of Greece ends the investigation. The case supervisor Yannis Padelis will present the final report on the Aspis portfolio to the Bank of Greece at the end of the month and then specific decisions will be taken.
During the investigation, the supervisors found that some insurance contracts were signed at unusually high levels and the contributions to them were made in cash. According to unofficial information, it is about money that are of unknown origin and if the supervisors find evidence that some clients have used the company for money laundering, the contracts will be cancelled.
Do you think there are other insurance companies on the Greek market close to failure?
Yes, I definitely think so, but I believe that after the Bank of Greece takes the supervision and the control the situation will be fine.
As I understand from your words, the fact that the Bank of Greece took over the supervision of insurance companies is a highly successful move of the government, isn’t it?
Yes, it is for good, really. Although the old control body made some changes, they were not sufficient and were only in one particular direction.
After this long and torturous case of the Aspis closure, the dark deals of the company and the risk to lose your money, do you think to make private life or pension insurances ever again?
We believe in the principles of private insurance and want to clear all the dirt in this sector, only loyal companies to remain in which the citizens can believe and trust their future.