ATHENS, Greece – Andreas Vgenopoulos, a Greek lawyer turned business tycoon, died Saturday of a heart attack, his Marfin Investment Group announced. He was 63.
Vgenopoulos was vilified as the man who precipitated Cyprus’ banking crisis in 2012, which led to an EU bailout and a one-time levy on all uninsured bank deposits over 100,000 euros. He was also accused of corrupt lending practices, first in Cyprus and then, last month, in Greece, a charge he strongly denied.
At the height of his success, Vgenopoulos acquired a string of businesses including Marfin Popular Bank, a passenger shipping firm, Greece’s largest food company, a private clinic and Greece’s ailing state airline, Olympic.
Recent years, however, had seen a reversal of fortune. While he held on to most of his acquisitions, their value shrank considerably.
Vgenopoulos was forced to sell Olympic to competitor Aegean Airlines. His bank, renamed Cyprus Popular Bank, was taken over by the Cypriot government, divided into “good” and “bad” parts. The “good” unit was sold to other banks and the “bad” was shuttered in 2013.
Vgenopoulos was a champion fencer in the 1970s and early 1980s and competed in the 1972 Olympics. He was also involved for a time as a minority shareholder of soccer club Panathinaikos.