Aggressive scrutiny by public authorities has dramatically increased the number of Public Sector Criminal Law cases whichare handled in our Law Firm by a special department. Cases involving public corruption, embezzlement of public assets, money laundering, tax crimes etc., are handled by a special team of highly experienced associates from the early stage of investigation by regulatory authorities, financial intelligence units etc. up to the procedure before the Court of Felonies, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
Our Law Firm has handled many of the most well-known cases of Private Sector Criminal Law. Our reputation is built on decades of tradition of handling notorious cases involving, fraud, embezzlement, forgery and all the spectrum of Private Sector Criminal Law including copyright felonies representing either the part of the defendant or the complainant. Our services include negotiations, counseling and representation from the early stages of investigation by the Police and regulatory authorities, up to the procedure before the Court of Felonies, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. We also provide full coverage as regards the procedures of suspension of bank privacy, seizure or financial assets and other measures imposed to protect the interests of the allegedly damaged party.
A Regulatory State Authority or Agency is a government body that is responsible for exercising autonomous dominion over some area of human activity in a regulatory or monitoring capacity. These are customarily set up to strengthen safety and standards, and/or to protect the public from unethical business conduct in markets where there is a lack of effective competition or the potential for the undue exercise of market power/authority. Regulatory agencies are generally a part of the executive branch of the government and have statutory authority to perform their functions with oversight from the legislative branch. Their actions are normally open to legal review. Regulatory Authorities deal in the areas of administrative law, regulatory law, secondary legislation, and rulemaking (codifying and enforcing rules and regulations and imposing supervision for the benefit of the public at large). The existence of Independent Regulatory Authorities is justified by the complexity of certain regulatory and directorial tasks, and the drawbacks of political interference. Independent Regulatory Authorities perform investigations or audits and may impose sanctions on the relevant parties and order certain measures. In many cases, in order for a company or organization to enter an industry, it must obtain a license to operate from the sector regulator. This license will set out the conditions by which the companies or organizations operating within the industry must abide. In most cases, regulatory agencies have powers to use some of the following mechanisms: Impose transparency of information and decision-making on part of the regulated company or organization; monitor the performance and compliance of the regulated company or organization, with the regulator publishing the findings of its investigations; require that administrators give reasons explaining their actions and have followed principles that promote non-arbitrary and responsive decisions; undertake enforcement action, such as directing the company to comply through orders, the imposition of sanctions and/or the revocation of a license to operate.
The Independent State Authorities are bodies directly or indirectly established by Constitutional provisions and their role is to contribute to safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms or serve some vital cause of public interest. Their establishment and function correspond to the difficulty which the existing administrative mechanisms face in addressing multifaceted human rights protection issues or causes of public interest, usually posed by the use of new technologies. The constitutionalisation of the Independent Authorities by the 2001 revision of the Constitution of Greece expressed the will to strengthen their institutional role and function in support of human rights protection without interferences by any governmental power. The work of the Independent Authorities is necessary because of the complicated technological advancement and chaotic market economy; furthermore, it is provided for and imposed by the Constitution, because only in this way may certain rights be effectively protected and the guarantees for the rule of law preserved. In this framework, Independent Authorities exercise serious powers analogous to those of the legislature of the judiciary.
Independent Authority for Public Revenue
The Independent Authority for Public Revenue, established by law 4389/2016 has, among others, the following powers and responsibilities: Determination, assessment and collection of tax and customs revenue, as well as collection of other public revenue. Identification of tax evasion, smuggling, tax fraud, illegal trade and the shadow economy and imputation of undisclosed income. Taking and implementing the necessary measures for the effective and efficient operation of its tax, customs and other services, in the areas of combating tax evasion, smuggling, tax fraud and the shadow economy. Implementing tax and customs law, assessment, collection and improving public revenue collectability. Identifying cases of corruption, non-transparent processes, lack of efficiency, low productivity or low quality of services provided and non-compliance, that may occur in the course of the operation and activities of its tax, customs and other services. Audits and investigations of the IAPR may lead to very serious implications like liability to pay large sums of taxes, heavy punitive fines, prosecution for very serious crimes and also to serious measures such as suspension of bank privacy, communications privacy, professional confidentiality, confiscation and seizure of assets such as real property, bank accounts, stocks, securities etc. Our Firm specializes in representing clients both from the side of the defendant and from the side of the complainant in all the above procedures.
Hellenic Financial Intelligence Unit
The Hellenic Financial Intelligence Unit is aiming at combatting the legalization of proceeds from criminal activities and terrorist financing, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction financing, and assisting in the security and sustainability of fiscal and financing stability. The Unit consists of three individual units, i.e., the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the Financial Sanctions Unit (FSU) and the Source of Funds Investigation Unit (SFIU). The president is an acting Public Prosecutor to the Supreme Court appointed by a Decision of the Supreme Judicial Council and serves on a full–time basis. Its mission, according to L.4557/2018 is the collection, investigation and analysis of suspicious transactions reports (STRs) that are forwarded to it by legal entities and natural persons, under special obligation, as well as every other information that is related to the crimes of money laundering and terrorist financing, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction financing, and the source of funds investigation. Such persons are: Credit institutions, financial institutions, venture capital companies, companies providing business capital, chartered accountants, audit firms, independent accountants and private auditors, tax consultants, real estate agents, casino enterprises and casinos operating on ships flying the Greek flag, as well as public or private sector enterprises, that organize and/or conduct gambling, auction houses, dealers in high-value goods, to the extent that payments are made in cash in an amount of EUR 15,000 or more, pawnbrokers, notaries and other independent legal professionals, when they participate, whether by acting on behalf of and for their clients in any financial or real estate transaction, or by assisting in the planning and execution of transactions for the client concerning the buying and selling of real property or business entities managing of client money, securities or other assets, opening or management of bank, savings or securities accounts, organisation of contributions necessary for the creation, operation or management of companies, creation, operation or management of trusts, companies or similar structures, persons providing services to companies and trusts which by way of business provide services such as forming companies or other legal persons, acting as or arranging for another person to act as a director or secretary of a company, providing a registered office, business address, correspondence or administrative address and any other related services for a company, acting as or arranging for another person to act as a trustee of an express trust, acting as or arranging for another person to act as a nominee shareholder for another person other than a company listed on a regulated market etc. Investigations of the HFU may lead to prosecution for the most serious crimes punished with the most serious of penalties and also to suspension of bank privacy, communications privacy professional confidentiality and other extremely serious measures. Representing clients both from the side of the defendant and from the side of the complainant party has always been the core of our Firm’s expertise.
Hellenic Data Protection Authority
The Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA) is an independent public authority under Article 9A of the Constitution and was established by Law 2472/1997, which incorporated into the greek legal order the European Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. By Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council (General Data Protection Regulation – GDPR), which entered into force on 25/5/2018 in all EU countries, Directive 95/45/EC was repealed. From 29/8/2019, Law 4624/2019 “Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA), measures for implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data, and transposition of Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 and other provisions” applies in greek territory. Law 4624/2019 also regulates the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the enforcement of criminal penalties. Furthermore, with regard to the protection of personal data in the electronic communications sector, the HDPA applies Law 3471/2006 which incorporates the European Directive 2002/58/EC into national law. In the framework of its mission to monitor and enforce the implementation of GDPR, Law 4624/2019 and other regulations concerning the protection of individuals regarding the processing of personal data, the HDPA, inter alia, has investigative powers as well as corrective, advisory and authorization powers. It has the right to impose serious penalties such as administrative fines up to 20.000.000€, or in the case of an undertaking, up to 4% of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year. Our Firm represents clients at all procedures before the HDPA and also before the courts, including criminal courts where very serious penalties are threatened as well as civil courts, where compensation claims from damaged parties can reach considerable amounts.
Hellenic Gaming Commission
The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC), successor of the Hellenic Gambling Commission, is an independent administrative authority responsible for the regulation, supervision and auditing of gambling activities carried out in Greek Territory. The function of HGC is to audit gaming operators, gaming venues, operation of gambling services and even players, if necessary, in accordance with the established institutional framework. The HGC is also the competent authority for monitoring the implementation of the provisions of Law 4557/2018 (Hellenic Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Law) to casinos, enterprises/businesses, organizations and agencies who organize and/or conduct gambling in Greece, plus their land-based agencies. The HGC also implements a Cooperation Agreement between the gambling regulatory authorities of most EEA-member countries concerning online gambling services mainly covering information exchange on gambling providers etc. Besides referring violations to the criminal Prosecution Authorities, the HGC has the right to impose serious sanctions, from fines to temporary or permanent revocation of permission to organize games, to use certain facilities of equipment or to employ certain people. Our Firm represents clients before the HGC during audits and proceedings and also before criminal and administrative courts in cases that are not resolved in an early stage.
Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission
The Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) is an Independent Administrative Authority acting as the National Regulator that monitors, regulates and supervises: (a) the electronic communications market, within which fixed and mobile telephony, wireless communications and Internet access providers operate and (b) the postal services market, within which postal and courier service providers operate. Moreover, EETT is entrusted with the competences to act as the Competition Authority in the said markets. In particular, EETT, among its various duties: Regulates issues related to: a) the definition of the relevant markets, products or electronic communications services, b) the assignment and obligations of operators with significant market power to the above mentioned markets in accordance with national and EU legislation, supervises and controls the operators of electronic communications networks/services, imposes the relevant penalties, grants the rights of use for radio frequencies or/ and numbers, regulates issues regarding domain names in the “.gr” area, regulates electronic signatures issues, regulates issues of consumer protection both in the electronic communications and the postal services sector, regulates and supervises the postal services market. Besides referring violations to the criminal Prosecution Authorities, the EETT has the right to impose serious sanctions, such as fines up the amount of 3.000.000€, imprisonment, revocation of license and confiscation of equipment, besides civil claims for the party damaged. Our Firm represents clients at all procedures before the EETT and also before the administrative courts, Council of State and Appellate Administrative Court, where the acts of EETT may be contested.
The National Council for Radio and Television
The National Council for Radio and Television is the Greek independent administrative authority which supervises and regulates the broadcasting sector. The Council has been assigned to secure that all broadcasts comply with the provisions laid down by the law of the Greek state from which they emanate as well as by the Directive “Television without Frontiers” of the European Commission. It is competent to control, where practicable and by appropriate means, the broadcasters’ operation with reference to their informational, educational, cultural and entertainment responsibilities to the public. NCRTV is the appropriate authority to ensure fundamental benefits such as the freedom of expression, political and cultural pluralism and the broadcasting of reliable, fair and balanced information. The Council is the only responsible body with regard to the control of media companies and the imposition of fines. Furthermore, it is the competent authority for allocating licenses and to take any decision of non-regulatory character. The Council’s services are organized in four main divisions: the legality and licensing department, the department for transparency and competition΄s supervision, the department for programs´ quality and human rights protection and the administrative and technical services department. In particular the NCRTV has the following powers and duties: It awards, renews and revokes the licenses for the operation of radio and television stations. It supervises that public and private broadcasters comply with the fundamental principles and rules in force regarding the pursuit of radio and television broadcast activities. It surveys and monitors programs’ quality, objectivity in disseminating information and the pluralistic expression of political ideas and opinions, as prescribed by Law. In specific, the NCRTV´s department for programs’ quality and human rights’ protection monitors television and radio programs in order to ascertain that broadcasters operating on the Greek territory under its jurisdiction conform to the code of journalistic ethics and the provisions of legislation in force, regarding human rights and dignity’s protection, presumption of innocence, pluralism, childhood and adolescence protection. It also surveys television and radio advertising spots for ensuring that stations comply with the rules laid down by law, concerning the total advertising air-time, advertisements for children toys, cigarettes, tobacco products and alcohol beverages. It supervises fundamental benefits such as the transparency of the actual ownership in order to apply competition law and eliminate tendencies of concentration, oligopoly or monopoly in regard with the broadcasting field. It imposes administrative sanctions to broadcasters for violation of the provisions of Law, applicable to media operation, after hearing the interested parts. According to the Greek audiovisual legislation, sanctions issued by NCRT may include an advice, a warning, a temporary or a permanent suspension of the radio/television station, administrative fines, even revocation of the license. As prescribed by Law, it examines the rectification petitions for personality offense, draws up and issues proclamations for broadcasting licenses to radio and television stations. It issues directives and recommendations to public and private media companies and expresses expert opinion on draft laws or decrees relating to the broadcasting sector and suggests changes for the improvement of the relevant legislation. It keeps record for mass media enterprises and companies which contract agreements for public procurements. Our Firm has a long-standing tradition in representing major media groups, both local and international, in cases of material broadcasted through streaming/made available in Greece by any means (via internet digital services, satellite services etc.), in all kinds of proceedings before the NCRTV and also before Justice.
Our Law Firm has a long-standing tradition in “making case-law” before the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights. Recourse to the Court of Justice of the European Union or the European Court of Human Rights is often the ultimate refuge against arbitrary legislation or unfair treatment by national Courts of Law. We are recognized as pioneers in referring cases to the international fora and turning around the course of cases that had unfortunate results on a national level.
Our office supports cases at any stage they are referred to us. Processing of a case by a highly specialized law firm in early stages is of crucial importance, since initial strategy, pleas, arguments, testimonies etc. mark each case up to its’ conclusion. However, our law firm supports cases even in the stage of appeal, cassation before the Supreme Court, before the Court of Justice of the European Union and before the European Court of Human Rights, revising failed strategies and restructuring representation followed up to the present stage.
The complexity of the cases dealt with besides specialization in various fields of law, also requires expertise other disciplines. Our Law Firm has formed a network of experts, top in their field and with an indisputable reputation, listed in the Courts’ accredited experts registers, such as economic advisors, financial analysts, banking experts, stock exchange experts, medical doctors, handwriting forensic experts (graphologists) etc., working together with our legal staff, providing useful counselling, issuing reports and experts’ opinions that usually make the difference in complex and ambiguous cases.