Dispute between Marfin Bank and Red Cross hospital discussed in Parliament

Health Minister Andreas Loverdos on Wednesday assured Parliament's Social Affairs committee that the health ministry will do everything in its power to prevent the 'Henry Dunant' hospital in Athens from closing.

The minister was addressing a special session of the committee devoted to the problems faced by the Athens-based hospital, known in Greek as the 'Errikos Dynan', which is owned and operated by the Hellenic Red Cross.

The session was also addressed by Marfin Investment Group chairman Andreas Vgenopoulos, who answered to claims Errikos Dynan chairman Andreas Martinis that the hospital's financial problems were the result of Marfin Bank - part of the MIG group - choking off its funding after the hospital entered into a partnership with a rival of an MIG group company in the health sector.

Loverdos said that he had asked Vgenopoulos to address the members of the committee so as to explore all possible ways of ensuring that the hospital stayed open, noting that this was more than just a business agreement since it affected hundreds of people in the health sector. He also promised that the health ministry will examine all possible solutions, including that of treating the hospital as belonging to the state sector.

Vgenopoulos, on his part, said that Marfin Bank was terminating the contract for the loan to the hospital because it had failed to keep up with payments and had also not provided the bank with any evidence that it would be able to service its loans. Among such evidence, Vgenopoulos including that of having an financial report drawn up by chartered accountants, in line with international book-keeping standards.

"If the bank had been dealing with an 'Errikos Dynan' capable of convincing that it had good management, which accepted inspection of its finances and had a business plan then there would be no problem, even now, in reaching a settlement," he said.

Vgenopoulos stressed that the bank was now only interested in getting back the 82 million euro that it was owed and denied that there was any business dispute with Martinis or any desire to buy out the hospital.

Vgenopoulos went on to question Red Cross ownership of the hospital, pointing out that 1.25 billion euro in tax-payer's money had gone toward its construction, while also accusing its management of flouting the law through its partnership with GAIA and of issuing invoices without VAT by exploiting its status as a charitable foundation.

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