Citizens Protection Minister Christos Papoutsis on Monday referred to a recent incident off the Ionian island of Corfu involving the sinking of a vessel carrying illegal migrants, in response to a tabled question by an opposition Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.O.S) deputy.
A written statement forwarded to Parliament by the minister underlined that the investigation conducted so far by Greek Police has brought to light no evidence linking the recent sinking of the vessel with the "Hawala" system, ostensibly used as a cash transport and payment system used by international illegal migrant trafficking rings.
Papoutsis said authorities are aware of the Hawala system, the unique feature of which is that no promissory instruments are exchanged between the parties involved. The transaction takes place entirely on the basis of "trust", and operates in the absence of a legal and juridical environment, while often funding illegal activities, tax evasion or money-laundering.
“Relevant authorities gather information on this specific system and its utilisation by international illegal migrant trafficking rings and terrorists for the purpose of transferring capital necessary to finance the preparation, organisation and execution of terrorist acts, human trafficking or even reinforcing the structure of such organisations,” Papoutsis warned.
Greece has increasingly come under pressure over recent years from the massive flow of mostly Third World illegals entering its territory -- in most cases via Turkey -- in a bid to reach other west European destinations. Increasingly high concentrations of illegal migrants are often recorded in major urban areas, as exiting Greece proves more difficult than remaining, as countries of origin refuse to acknowledge their undocumented citizens, whereas Turkey has only recently stepped up efforts to repatriate would-be migrants using its territory as transit.