Costa whistleblower 'made a scapegoat': Manager at Greek bank became suspicious of Cypriot after call from BCCI, reports Tim Kelsey

IT WAS Robinson Zymboulakis, a senior manager in the National Bank of Greece, who first suspected fraud by Charilaos Costa. Mr Zymboulakis was not impressed by Costa's much vaunted links with leading members of the Labour Party and did not allow himself to be fooled by the Cypriot businessman's plausible manner.

Mr Zymboulakis, 53, who says he has been threatened with violence by Costa if he reveals details of the fraud, was alerted in February 1991 by a telephone call from one of Costa's British banks, BCCI. The bank was refusing to honour two letters of credit owed to the National Bank of Greece because it found the exports covered by the letters of credit did not exist.

Mr Zymboulakis then refused two debts owed by his bank to Barclays in Britain when he discovered allegedly fraudulent airways bills covering non-existent exports. Union Discount, the financing house, in turn investigated its transactions with Costa and discovered that pounds 6m worth of financing may have been fraudulently obtained. Union Discount called in the Fraud Squad. Costa's British companies went into receivership with debts of pounds 2m.

Before the authorities closed in, Costa had established himself in north London's Cypriot community as a man who rubbed shoulders with national figures. Neil Kinnock visited his Enfield factory while Labour leader, and once, according to a business associate of Costa's, came to the office Christmas party. Mr Kinnock does not deny his acquaintance with Costa, and said he had met him socially. When it emerged that Costa was being investigated in May 1991, Mr Kinnock issued a statement that Costa had never donated money to himself or his wife, Glenys, personally.

Mr Zymboulakis was blamed by Costa for causing the collapse of his business empire. During a National Bank internal investigation, he was praised for stopping the fraud. But the bank finally honoured its debts to Barclays, and wrote off at least pounds 1.3m. Mr Zymboulakis believes that he was made a scapegoat. He was dismissed on a technicality because he overstepped his powers in allowing Costa, as a trusted customer of 10 years standing, to exceed his business overdraft.

The National Bank, for whom he had worked for 33 years, withheld his pension (around Cyprus pounds 90,000), and called for the immediate repayment of loans he had taken to buy a house for his daughter.

Mr Zymboulakis was deprived of his passport during the police investigation into Costa's affairs. It has not yet been returned, and no explanation has been offered by the local authorities. He is now optimistic that he may get it back. He has not been able to find other work and has been forced to scrape a living mending roofs, and working as a restaurant cashier.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Shock of the news: Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler’
filmReview: Gyllenhaal, in one of his finest performances, is funny, engaging and sinister all at once
Arts and Entertainment
Shelley Duvall stars in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining
filmKaleem Aftab picks his favourites for Halloween
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington has been given a huge pay rise to extend his contract as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones
tv
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballBeating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Life and Style
Google's doodle celebrating Halloween 2014
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes